Nobody likes dealing with the bank, but sometimes you need to. Whether it’s asking for another line of credit, closing an account, opening an account, or just making sure your finances are kosher, sometimes that very annoying phone call is needed.
My parents – mom especially, but both parents – are both pretty good with their money, and they’ve passed on their knowledge to me. I’ve more than once had to call my bank to make sure I wasn’t being taken advantage of or to ask them for a favor. While it’s not exactly my favorite phone call, there are ways to make it easier.
1. Keep track of your expenses regularly so you have all the information you need during the phone call.
How can you catch an incorrect charge if you’re not paying attention? You can’t. And while banks are getting better and better with checking in on you (I get texts alerts from Bank of America all the time), you can’t rely on someone else to catch something like this. Every bank has an app. Download it on your phone and check your statements daily.
2. Call immediately if something is not right.
Once you notice the incorrect charge, make the call ASAP. If someone is using your information to make purchases, the longer you wait, the more money they can spend. Shut it down immediately.
3. If the charge comes from the bank itself, ask for details.
“Miscellaneous” is not an acceptable reason for a charge. If you argue with the representative and stand your ground, chances are they will waive the fee. Customer service is more and more important to banks – which works in your favor!
If you need a replacement card, they will probably charge you for it. However, if your card was stolen, or if you never lost your card but the information has been compromised, it really isn’t your fault. Ask them to waive the replacement fee if you feel like you don’t deserve to pay it. They might not always do it, but sometimes they do, and it’s worth asking.
4. Stay calm but stay firm.
The person you’re talking to is a customer service representative, so their entire job is to help you. It doesn’t help to lose your temper with them. However, if you feel like something isn’t right with your account, it’s important to make sure the bank treats you properly. Sometimes you have to call more than once to get a rep you can actually help you (this tip works for healthcare too).
5. Record everything.
If for some reason you’re having trouble getting a charge removed that you don’t think belongs there, keep a record of everything. Ask for representatives’ names. Write down the time of conversation. Make sure you have everything you need in case you need to refer back to any previous encounters.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to this step, but if it does, it’s important to be prepared!
6. Stay informed about the institutions you bank with.
Wells Fargo recently had a huge scandal, where millions of customers were ripped off and had accounts opened up in their name without their permission. It took several years and an enormous lawsuit before things were settled. Make sure the banks you work with have a sterling reputation when it comes to how they treat their customers.
You shouldn’t have to pay for things you didn’t buy. Hope this little guide helps you take back what’s yours!