Check your bills for questionable transactions

August 2 2007 by Ellen Roseman

If you don’t normally comb through each bank statement and credit card bill looking for errors, here are some stories that might make you change your behaviour.

Start with Dave, who writes: “Twice in the last month, my 15-year-old stepdaughter has been charged a false $35 NSF fee on her RBC bank account. Both times, we went to the bank and they apologized and reversed the charges. Both times, the tellers made statements such as ‘this happens a lot” and “you don’t know how often this occurs.’ My daughter checks her account online very frequently and caught both charges. How many people do that? Would they notice a $35 discrepancy over a month-long period.”

Then, there’s Fred who works in a bookstore. He’s noticed customers coming in with their bank statements and saying their book purchases, made with a debit card, were billed twice. They get a refund right away, but there must be others who don’t notice the double charging. How does it happen? He thinks it’s when the first debit card purchase doesn’t go through and the cashier puts it through again. The cashier may think the first transaction is cancelled, and may get a message that it’s void, but that’s not always the case.

Also, I’ve been hearing about new retail policies that no signature is required on Visa and MasterCard transactions below a certain amount, say under $100. The stores say it’s more convenient for customers and reduces the waiting time for those standing in line. But what about security of customers’ funds? Is it being compromised by these no-signature policies?

Unless you scrutinize your online banking accounts or paper statements, you may end up with charges that aren’t really yours.


  1. Jamie

    Aug 5 2007

    I was surprised the first time with no signature required on a credit card, but it doesn’t concern me. I’ve got a card on which the signature has worn off, and the surface of the signature strip has worn in such a way that it can’t be written on now. I was surprised when a clerk noticed that and wanted to see ID…out of thousands of transactions since the signature has been unreadable or gone completely, it still is only once where the store noticed.

    Since being asked about it, I always notice what they do with my card. Usually the clerks don’t even look, sometimes they go through the motion of turning it over to look…but always proceed like they have seen the signature they are looking for, despite it not being there. Of course, with the self checkout lanes, one can sign anything they want to.

  2. Jake

    Aug 6 2007

    I have been checking my statements (chequing account and credit cards) faithfully for the past 17 years and have, surprisingly, never been billed erroneously for anything.

  3. Hamza

    Aug 18 2007

    hi i enjoyed the read

  4. Wesley

    Sep 26 2007

    I had an unauthorized charge put on my Visa. I disputed the charge and just found out that Visa is still holding me responsible.

    Visa has been presented with a copy of the slip that clearly states “I refuse to pay,” initialed by me. They do not have an imprint of my card or a signature. I’m unsure of where to go from here. Any suggestions?

  5. Kirti

    Jan 27 2009

    I checked my credit card statement and found that I have been charged 5000 Rs on 28th Dec from some grocery shop.It showed the time also at 1.10 pm. I have my customer copy for 5000 Rs. But here problem is I didn’t buy anything of worth 5000 from that grocery shop. My bill was only 500 Rs. They swiped the card for wrong amount and I signed that without even looking at that. I don’t have grocery shop’s bill.Any suggestions how can I deal with this?