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I hear of scams where people take your credit card number and then just occasionally take out $20 here and there. On your statement it'll just look like something innocent to make it look like a trip to the supermarket or petrol station.

So I was wondering, I do take a look at my monthly expenses but I can't remember exactly when and where I purchased this and that. What is a good way to keep track of my credit card expenses to make sure that there are no transactions that I didn't actually approve.

10

The best way is to retain the charge slips. After you are done for the month you can discard them.

Alternatively if you are using any of the personal finance tool or a simple XLS to track exepnses, it would be easy to figure out what you actually spent and what was not yours.

  • thats actually a good idea - just keep the slips. Although if one or two was missing, I probably wouldn't be able to verify whether i just lost the slip or it was a fraudant charge! – Joe.E Jun 30 '11 at 4:30
  • @JoeE: On most occassions the slips match 100%. In case there is exception, say a few entries not matching, its easier to recollect these entries, these could be online transactions or transactions where there is no slip. A few cases where you actually misplaced the slip, you would still remember the transaction. – Dheer Jun 30 '11 at 4:36
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    Yep, agree with this. It's akin to running your personal finances like a business. And having been in the situation of losing a slip, it was no problem to recall the transaction because all the other background noise was already filtered out. – gef05 Jun 30 '11 at 15:14
  • I combine the slips w/a spreadsheet, which is my budget. Once I put the amount in the budget, I can trash the receipt. Then I ensure monthly from cc bill that everything is accounted for. – Andy Wiesendanger Jul 1 '11 at 16:59
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Sign up for alerts. Everytime you use your card, you'll get an alert. That way if there is an unauthorized transaction, you'll know right away.

The alerts can also tell you what amount was charged - since this happens right away, the last last cc transaction is fresh in your memory and any overcharges can be easily detected.

Has saved me more times than I can remember!

  • mmm that's good, i'll see if my credit card company offers it – Joe.E Jun 30 '11 at 12:25
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There are some tools that might help you. For example, I have an "Expense It" application on my iPhone, where I can type in a purchase while still at the cashier, the idea is to track expenses on a trip, but the implementation will suit your needs perfectly.

Keeping slips is a way to go too, but I personally don't like that because I'm a messy person and after a couple of days all the receipts are gone. If you can keep track of tons of slips - you can just do that.

  • i'll have a look at that app. i'm a messy person too, and there's the job of having to sort them through at the end of the month. – Joe.E Jun 30 '11 at 6:10
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One trick is to make all purchases end in a particular number of your choosing, say "3". From now on, all restaurant meals,gas purchases, and anything in your control, end them in 3. When you glance at the bill, you can skip these charges, and look carefully at the rest. It's not 100%, as you couldn't easily impact supermarket charges and many others, but it's half of my routine charges.

  • This doesn't work for online and retail purchases, but it's a workable idea for restaurants and gas. – Dan Dascalescu Oct 3 '14 at 8:31
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Read your bill, question things that don't look familiar.

People who steal credit card numbers don't bother to conceal themselves well. So if you live in Florida, and all of the sudden charges appear in Idaho, you should investigate.

Keeping charge slips seems counter-productive to me. I already know that I bought gasoline from the station down the street, a slip of paper whose date may or may not align with the credit card bill is not very useful.

The half-life for a stolen card is hours. So you tend to see a bunch of charges appearing quickly. If someone is stealing $20 a week from you over an extended period of time, the theif is probably someone you live or work with, and paper slips won't help you there either.

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