Sunday, August 8, 2010

PSA – Online banking & credit card accounts

For anyone who may not know, besides being a doting mother and wife, I’m also an accountant by day. Exciting, I know.

I’m a number oriented person and I watch our finances like a hawk. I just feel like we can’t be too safe these days. I do a few things and I want to share those with you because doing so has found an error that I may not have otherwise noticed.

Disclaimer: I am in no way a financial guru, this is just what works for us.

A little back history: Zach and I both work very hard to ensure we handle our finances responsibly. We’ve worked hard to get rid of small debts we had when we first got married just due to us being in school, etc. We have ONE credit card we use daily – and we use it only because we get pretty sweet rewards from it. However, we treat it like a debit card and write down transactions in the check book, because it is paid off monthly. A balance is never carried on it because paying interest on it just means the things we purchase are really more expensive than what we pay.

Because I don’t want to miss any transactions, and because of the ever growing risk of identity theft, I check our bank account and credit card account pretty much every day. I feel that by doing so, if a charge that wasn’t ours is on there, I could catch it fairly quickly before anything got out of hand.

For example, I was going to write down some transactions and just went to make sure I hadn’t missed any and saw a debit coming out of bank account. The balance in our bank account had changed which was odd – because I only pay bills out of it at the beginning of the month, write checks, or pay the credit card account, it sits pretty dormant for most of the month. Firstly, we have pretty much quit using our debit cards simply because of the reason mentioned above – why not get something back for spending $$$ we’d spend anyway? Secondly, the charge had a transaction date at the end of JUNE that just TODAY showed up in my bank account. It was labeled a POS (point of sale) transaction which meant it was a debit card transaction & it should NOT take that over a month to process. Thirdly, it was for a restaurant that we have not eaten at in OVER a year. The last time I remember eating there was when Zach and I met for lunch last summer after one of Ava’s dr’s appointments. Just out of curiosity, I went and looked at the EOB for that dr visit and it was the SAME date as the debit card charge that was coming through THIS year. I also pulled up my bank statement from last year at the time I remembered us going, and the amount from that day is the same to the penny as the one that just came out of our account. I called the restaurant and spoke with the owner who is looking into it for me. He was very understanding and said he hoped it wasn’t just a duplicate transaction, but I’m kind of thinking it was.

He did tell me something I was unaware of. Whether this is true for all places, I’m not sure. Apparently since we’d used a debit card there and put a tip on it, it had gone into a “holding account” if you will, and it could possibly not get closed out. That’s very concerning to hear. Thankfully this was only a small amount of money but it just goes to show that even though we sometimes do all we can to protect ourselves, things can still happen. However, I believe the more we do to keep things straight, the better off we are!

One other thing we do is regularly order credit reports from the 3 credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian & TransUnion. You can find more information here. You can get 1 free report per place per year so you can get 3 free per year. It’s just a good way to make sure there’s nothing shady going on under your name! :)

I hope that this has been helpful and that it will help someone prevent fraud for themselves!


  1. Hey Sarah!

    What credit card to you use to get your sweet rewards? I've been considering doing this same thing for David and I but can't decide what credit card would be the best for us. ~ Suzy Bayles

  2. Lol I hate numbers! But I'm so glad I have a husband that monitors our credit often and every time I swipe my card he gets an email alert. He calls me swiped the fox because i forget to write it down.
    We'd be a mess if he didn't take care of it!:)

  3. We'd love it if you'd come read our brand NEW blog!

  4. Interesting about the tip and holding thing. Good to know. Thanks for this!


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