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)
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! 😉
Quick Steps, In A Nut Shell
The first thing you should know is it’s vital you always closely track your debit card and credit card transactions.
If we had not been monitoring our accounts, we would have never noticed the charges. While it turned out to harmless, it could have been devastating if there were unknown charges on our accounts and we didn’t notice them.
If you find there are unknown charges, and you can’t track down where they are from, there are several steps you should take as quickly as possible. The first thing you should do is contact the bank or credit card company immediately.
If the charge was made on a credit card, then you can call your issuer, and under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you can get reimbursed for charges up to $50.
If your credit card number was stolen, you should request you get a number card with new account numbers. You should get any money credit back to your account within the day.
If it was a debit card, on the other hand, you’d need to contact the bank within the first two days after the transaction. If you report the transaction within the first two days, your liability will be limited to $50. After this, your liability jumps up to $500.
After that, you will need to get a new card (which can take several days) and also change your PIN.
Of course, if your bank is being difficult to work with, you can always consider swapping to a different institution. Some great options (with considerable perks) are Chase Bank, BBVA (formerly BBVA Compass), and USAA.