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What To Do When You Have an Unknown Charge in Your Statement

by Ryan Guina

I was reconciling my financial accounts with Quicken the other day when I came across a charge I did not recognize. Well, I did recognize it, but only because I had seen it a few weeks earlier. But that was only the second time I had seen it, and I still did not know what it was. The charge was to “Michelle Rockens” for $16.99. In fact, both charges were exactly $16.99, and a little less than a month apart.

I googled ‘Michelle Rockens.’ Nothing came up. At least not in English, I think it was Dutch. Now I was starting to get a little worried. I had no idea who or what this person was and I saw flashing red lights everywhere.

I recently wrote about an automatic deposit and withdrawal scam that works through ACH transactions. In this scam, thieves randomly make up account numbers and attach them to bank routing numbers and deposit small sums into bank accounts. If the deposit doesn’t get kicked back, they know they have a ‘live one.’ What if my account has been hacked?!?

I searched a few months back in my records and could find no other suspicious transactions. Now I was more confused about the situation, but still concerned. Time to call my bank. Actually, my wife handled this while I was at work (I did Quicken the night before while the bank was closed).

Her conversation went like this:

Wife: Hi, I’d like to inquire about a certain charge we have.

Bank: Sure, let me get your info… (She gives it to them)

Pause…

Bank: It looks like an eating establishment. Let me check some more.

30 seconds later…

Bank: It is Papa John’s Pizza. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Wow! Was I relieved! I have no idea why Papa John’s would come up as Michelle Rockens in our bank statement (we used our debit card). My only guess is that is the owner’s name. If that is the case, I apologize Michelle, for using your name in a public forum. But couldn’t you change it so Papa John’s showed up on transactions? That would make more sense!

Thankfully, for my wife and I this turned out to have a happy ending. If you ever have a suspicious or disputed charge, be sure to contact your bank without delay. Hopefully, you will be as amused as I was! ;)


Published or updated April 15, 2008.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dimes

Haha, it’s like how NMCRS loans are allotted as “US Debt” and TSP loans are allotted as “NMCRS debt.” Very irritating, when we get angry clients asking why we’re taking their money but they actually are repaying their TSP. Blah!

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2 Ryan

For those who do not know, NMCRS is the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. The NMCRS is around to assist Seamen and Marines and their family members. :)

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3 SingleGuyMoney

That is hilarious. I take it you do not write down transactions in a checkbook and you just do it all online?

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4 Ryan

Yeah, we do everything on-line. My wife and I leave enough in our checking account to cover our normal expenses; if we want to make a major purchase we plan accordingly.

Thankfully, it was a false alarm!

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5 vause

I usually look at my bank statement everyday. Same with my credit card statement. I am always afraid of these scammers and one never know unless they check their statesment often. Great False alarm!!!

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6 Ryan

Hi Vause,

I used to look at my statement very often, but I do it only a few times a month now. I still check it fairly often, but normally I just do a quick scan, then I upload everything into Quicken, usually twice a month. I noticed the first instance awhile back, but I wanted to talk to my wife about it, and hopefully figure out what it was on my own. Thankfully, it was a false alarm!

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7 OhioLeslie

thank you so much for posting this. i as well just found a “michelle rockens” charge and was dumbfounded. you eased my nerves and saved me a phone call to the bank! thank you!!

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8 Ryan

LOL. Glad to help. :)

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9 Donna

I recently had a withdrawal on my bank account from SSM Group, LLC. All that was on my statement was a phone number which has led to an answering machine. I don’t ever remember dealing with this company. I’m very conscious about any identity scams and this one doesn’t sound like a legit company. Any suggestions?

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10 Ryan

Donna: I recommend contacting your bank’s fraud department and telling them you are not aware of this charge or why it was made. They should be able to determine the source of the charge, and if not they can block the company from making further charges, and they might be able to do a charge back from the company’s bank to get the money back to you. The sooner you contact your bank and file the complaint, the better.

Best of luck to you.

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11 Melina Saucedo

Hi! I like your website and I am impressed by what you do. I understood what you wrote about the “private” accounts hackers used to deposit money to their accounts using random account numbers which is what I suspect with my phone service. I had 5 long distance phone number listed in my bill and did not recognize it. So, I called my phone company, each was for 1 minute charged. Perhaps four out of 20 were for 2 to 8 minutes total. The phone company said I get charged long distance if I answer a long distance call even if it is not a 800 number. Is that possible? I have never heard of that. I only know that the person “calling” is supposed to pay for the call. Right? Let me know what the facts are. Thankfully yours, Melina

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12 Ryan

Melina, I have never heard of a phone company that charges you to answer a phone call unless it is a cell phone company or a collect call. I recommend contacting the company again and asking them for a written copy of the policy that outlines potential charges. Best of luck.

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