Every so often, my mom will ask for help. I started by creating an excel spreadsheet of my parents’ checking account. I would download a month at a time, calculating monthly income and expenses and I reviewed that with my mom. Once that was working, I got access to their online credit card account. Now I also take over the past month’s statement. We review any odd payments. Today, I stopped by and we had two charges that my parents said they had no knowledge of, so I called to protest the charges while they sat and listened.
The first was a jewelry company—a garnet necklace delivered in December. “No, we don’t recall any such purchase and we never got it.” The firm didn’t have any signature, so they reversed the charges and said they would no longer take orders from this address. Turns out the necklace is around my sister’s neck (christmas present – duh), so I will call back to confirm receipt.
The second was Who’s Who for almost $250.00. Somehow my dad signed up, did the interview and already got a certificate and a press kit. He has no recollection of any of this. After talking with the company representative, it was obvious he spoke with my dad. It’s so nice of Who’s Who to let him pay for the privilege to be in their book (Grrr). They agreed to remove him from all future solicitations. The guy, at one point, asked, “Might he order something and not remember it?”—YES! Seems like they should just refund the money based on that answer alone.
During my phone calls, my mom is poring through her checkbook. She can’t discern the difference between a credit card purchase and her checking account. She starts calling out check numbers—the first two payments are automatically withdrawn from their account so they have doubled paid some bills. The auto-withdrawal was set up well before I got involved and I assume since they are utilities, that after a few missed payments, the utility firms talked my parents into signing up for the auto-pay system.
At this point, I can show her the monthly payments already made and she realizes that something is out of sorts with the bill payments. I ask if they will keep all the bills that come in, and we will go over them every Wednesday morning. We agree. I stick a Post-it note in the checkbook to “Hold all checks until next Wednesday” and date it. She writes my pending visit in her calendar. Tickled.