How often do you actually look through your utility bills to verify the charges? You might pay your bill each month and never give it a thought until one day it hits you that your bill is kind of high. Actually very high. Then you compare it with bills from a year ago and it might even be double what you paid before.

There are a lot of scammers out there ready to reach into your pocket and you might not even know it’s happening.

How about paying to call an 800 number?

Some people get charged after they call what they think is a toll-free number and then are told they agreed to pay for the call. What? Yeah, when you ask about it you’re told they have a recording of your voice agreeing to pay for the call. You’re actually calling a number out of the country. So be careful when somebody says they’re recording the call. Listen to what they say.

In some states they allow merchants to charge a credit card check-out fee. It could be anywhere from 1.5 to 3 % of the total purchase. It’s not legal in New York State though.

Some retailers get around it – especially gas stations that offer a reduced price when you pay for gas with cash.

There’s not a whole lot you can do about utility bills when there’s only one provider.

But when you have a choice in providers for phone and other services, compare the rates, check for unusual fees and ask questions.