Looking Out for Number One

August 28, 2008

Part of being frugal means staying on top of your finances, knowing what your bills are and how much you owe, and if you have ever been a Citigroup customer, how much you paid.  Today, NPR and CNNMoney reported on a ‘sweeping’ practice of Citigroup.  ‘Sweeping’ is where the company takes money from customers accounts into the bank’s own accounts.

Citi of course says it was just an accounting practice, and that they stopped voluntaily,  and that in no way was this stealing money from customers.  This practice started in 1992, but they stopped, totally on their own, in 2003.  Hmm. Supposedly it only affected 53,000 customers and Citi is refunding those customers.

What can you learn from this?  Diligence. Look at your credit card bill and your bank statement every single month.  Make sure your records match the banks records.  If you are paying a credit card bill, and you pay over the minium amount, make sure it is reflected on your statement where it shows payment, AND where it shows the new balance.

If there is a problem, follow up with the company immediately.  The quickest way to get your account corrected is to be quick.  Call customer service.  If that does not solve the problem, write them an actual paper letter with copies of any documentation you have to prove your side.  Keep a copy of what you mail to them.  Once they correct the problem, don’t let your guard down.  If they misplaced your payment once, it can happen again.

I’m sure giant corporations have only the best of intentions, and they would never screw the little guy.  Surely Citi didn’t mean to ‘sweep’ money from thousands and thousands of their customers.  After all, it was just an accounting practice.

Whatever the case, be diligent.  Keep track of your payments, keep track of your balances, and if there is a problem, follow up!

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