Since I was a little girl, my parents have drilled in the importance of being smart with money. I started my first savings account when I was in elementary school, and I have kept it in use ever since.
Recently, however, getting money out of an ATM wasn’t convenient enough, especially because I have been going out with friends to the mall more often, and there aren’t many ATMs available if I need cash. Getting a prepaid Visa® card from a website quickly solved this problem. Every month I would have a specific amount of money added to the card — my parents transferred money from their savings account — and that is all I would have for the rest of the month. Some months I don’t spend all of the money on my card, so I have more money available in the months when I tend to spend more than my monthly allowance — like when I buy new clothes in the summer before school starts. I used my card less in the fall, so I had accumulated extra money when I was ready to use it to buy new winter clothes.
However, when I looked at the website that shows all of the past transactions on my card, I noticed two charges that I knew I hadn’t made. One was for a $25 Starbucks card reload, which I knew wasn’t mine because I don’t have a Starbucks card. The other was from a magazine subscription website. The total amount that I had “paid” added up to $65 in fraudulent charges. I told my parents, and they helped me get dispute forms to send to Visa to request a refund for the fraudulent charges.
There were a couple actions that I should have taken a long time ago to prevent the fraud from going this far. The first was that I should have looked at the charges to my card about once a week. That way, I could have caught the fraudulent charges quickly, which is important because if 60 days go by, there is no way to get a refund for the money. Second, I should have kept an envelope of receipts so that I would have full confidence that I had not made those charges.
In this case, it was clear that I had not made the charges, but in another situation, it might have been much harder to tell. That might have made it harder to prove that there was fraud and would have significantly reduced the chance of getting the money back.
Fortunately, I am currently in the process of being reimbursed, but now I know what I have to do differently, and hopefully this will never happen again.
By Katie Giunta, 9th grader and SLFCU Member
Editor’s note: SLFCU does not offer prepaid cards or promote or endorse any specific prepaid cards. There may be fees associated with some prepaid cards; read card disclosures for exact details. Regularly monitoring for fraudulent activity is best practice for any type of card, including debit and credit cards.
Teens Can Get $100
SLFCU members age 13-17 are invited to submit an article on a financial topic to be considered for publication in our Dollars & Sense newsletter and on our website. SLFCU will award teens $100 for published articles.
Click here for details and to submit an article. SLFCU will review all submissions and respond within 30 days.
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