The last post chronicled the story of a dishonest receptionist whose shenanigans were foiled because my wife and I take the time to match every item on our credit card statement with its receipt. An item in the statement which does not have a corresponding receipt bearing the same total sends up an immediate red flag. It’s our way to avoid the credit card ripoff.

credit card ripoff
Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon/

This saga is a little more complex. Every month, you send money to the mortgage company. Do they credit the proper amount to the principal and the proper amount to interest? Could some of it simply be disappearing into a black hole? How would you know?

The dishonest mortgage worker

Some time ago, we refinanced our mortgage to take advantage of a substantially lower rate. Several months later, my wife noticed the balance on the principal was hundreds of dollars off from what our records showed it should have been. Phone call after phone call to the mortgage company produced little results. Their motto was not, “The customer is always right,” A more accurate motto for them was, “The customer is always a bird-brain.” If our records didn’t agree with theirs, the problem must be our records—end of story.

Ask them to do this…

If you ever find yourself dealing with a company whose representative is supposedly taking copious notes about your problem so that they can pass them along to the person who will solve your problem, try this technique. On your next call, ask the person to whom you are talking to pull up the notes about your problem and read them to you. I never cease to be amazed at how incomplete those notes can be. We certainly found this to be the case with our mortgage company.

Interestingly enough, during two calls, a semi-helpful employee examined our history. He mentioned a transfer of hundreds of dollars from our account made on a certain date by “Tiffany.” The notes included no explanation of why the funds were being transferred or to where. (I have omitted the last name to protect the identity of the guilty.)

Could I speak to Tiffany?

On a hunch, my wife called the mortgage company and asked to speak to that particular employee by name. There was a sudden silence on the other end of the phone. It seems Tiffany “no longer works here anymore,” and with good reason. Within a few seconds, my wife was transferred to the head of the department who personally got the wheels turning to fix the problem.

How many other people were victims of Tiffany’s scam and to this day do not know it? Obviously, Tiffany was the major player in this game of cat and mouse. But what about the other employees to whom both my wife and I had spoken? What about the lack of follow-through on the part of two different employees? They saw the “Tiffany” transaction. They found the lack of an explanation puzzling. Yet, they did nothing about it What about the executives who fired Tiffany, yet made no concerted effort to find and correct these transfers of funds? ad it not been for our persistence, we would have been victims of the credit card ripoff.

And the moral of the story if you want to avoid the credit card ripoff…

Yes, there are some great businesses in the world and some extraordinary people who work for them. At the same time, there are those companies who are at the other end of the spectrum who masquerade as the “good guys.” When dealing with them, keeping good records is a must. Examining and questioning statements is a must. Caveat emptor!