Should Your Charge Card Bills Get a ‘Second Look’?

Magnifying_GlassLet me ask you a few questions about your banking, credit cards and how you pay your bills:

  • Do you go over your credit card statements in great detail, or just scan to make sure things don’t look out of whack?
  • How many “automatic” renewal charges do you have going on your cards?
  • Do you ever sign up for those “first month free” deals and input an account number with the plan to quit the program or unsubscribe before the first month is out?

I think all of those are fairly common attributes of modern life, but unfortunately they can all lead to an unwanted slow—or not-so-slow—cash drain. We have so many cards and financial accounts today, that it’s easy to get complacent about monitoring them. Capital One just kicked off a pilot program called “Capital One Second Look” that is designed to prevent some of the problems that can occur from these situations.

Extra help

The Capital One program monitors credit card transaction for high bill amounts, subscriptions that renew automatically, duplicate amounts and other easy-to-miss charges. This will add an extra layer of protection and make life a little bit easier for those who hold Capital One cards.

Most of us by now probably know that most credit card issuers have fraud detection programs. I know I occasionally get a call or text message asking me to verify a certain charge amount. However, Capital One says that its Second Look program will alert customers on a much wider variety of potential issues.

Capital One has labeled it as a “pilot program” so it’s sort of like software that’s in beta. You can probably expect some fine tuning as customers interact with its alerts over the next several months. And, they are doing something interesting during this rollout. They’re asking customers to tell them what “Second Look” should be, well, looking for.

I know that I will appreciate Capital One flagging those “first month free” services that I’m inclined to try out every so often. They always make me nervous, and sometimes I bail out before the last mouse click. Knowing that I’ll get an alert later down the road should give me a little more confidence and who knows, I might sample some good services that I would otherwise skip.

By the numbers

According to Capital One, data shows that two out of three of their customers overlook duplicate charges that could have been made in error. Early results indicate that Second Look alerts make customers three times more likely to question a charge. The alerts come via email. So far 25 percent of the Capital One customers trying out the pilot program have inquired about hikes in regularly occurring charges, such as when a utility bill goes up unexpectedly.

I think that anything that makes us more observant and attentive consumers is a good thing. Especially for small business owners who are trying to watch every penny…which is what the Second Look program does, literally…well, digitally is probably a better adverb.

Sponsored by AT&T