How to Stop Grey Charges

Unwanted charges cost consumers more than $14 billion last year. Here’s how to protect yourself.

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Get cancellations in writing. When cancelling a free trial or gym membership, get it in writing, because phone cancellations can become a "he said, she said" scenario. Elliott recommends getting a confirmation number or taking a screenshot of the page confirming your cancellation. "You can't just call and say 'I don't want to be a member of your club' or 'I don't want to get my credit report anymore,'" he says. "You have to have hard proof." After you've cancelled, check your statements to make sure the company stops charging you. "I've had these calls where people start getting called by bill collectors saying that they stopped paying for a gym that they were still a member of," Howard says. That's why he suggests keeping a copy of gym cancellation paperwork forever.