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Your credit score

JJJ says that both times Verizon charged her, her bank account went into overdraft because she didn’t have enough money in her account to pay for these high fees. This also meant that she couldn’t pay the other bills she had that month.

She says she “did what [she] was supposed to do,” yet she was the one who ultimately had to pay the price for Verizon’s mistake.

It wasn’t just a short-term issue — that JJJ didn’t have enough money in her account — but a long-term one. These overdraft fees and late bill payments could affect her credit score.

If your credit score drops, you may find it challenging to do everything from buying a home or a car, getting a bank loan or even renting an apartment. JJJ is a single mom, she only has herself to rely on for her and her kids. So having a good credit score — somewhere between 740 to 760 — means that she can provide them with things like housing and transportation.

If your credit score is lower than the mid-750s, you’re not alone. Experian’s most recent data shows the average FICO score in the U.S. is 715.

If you want to boost your credit score, there are ways to do it. But the number one thing you can do is to pay your bills, in full, every single month.

If that’s not feasible, you can try to reduce your interest rate on your overdue bills. You can call your credit card company and ask them about interest rate decreases. They may be more likely to grant you a lower rate if you have a history of timely payments or have been with the company for a long time.

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Unnecessary spending

JJJ didn’t even know that Verizon mischarged her until other creditors called her about why she hadn’t paid her bills. That’s when she looked at her account and saw that it had been overdrawn and gone into overdraft.

“I can’t even buy groceries for my damn kids!” JJJ says in her viral TikTok.

With many people using autopay for bills these days, it can be easy to lose track of what’s being deducted and when.

For example, most people think they spend $86 on monthly subscription services, such as streaming services or clothing, according to a 2022 study by C+R Research. But it turns out that people spend an average of $219 per month — $133 more than they’d thought.

Every month, it’s good to take a look at your bank account and credit card statements. You can keep an eye out for surprise charges, like JJJ’s from Verizon.

This account check-in also can serve as a way to ensure that you’re sticking to a monthly budget and ensure you’re on track for accomplishing your financial goals — whether that’s saving, reducing debt or a little bit of both.

Stand up for your money

Verizon did eventually return the $5,234.12 to JJJ. In a video where she celebrates this great news, she says only got her money back because she constantly bothered Verizon and brought her grievances to TikTok, which also caught the company’s attention.

If you go through your own statements and see that something is off, don’t hesitate to call your bank or credit card company. You are the customer and deserve to understand why you have certain charges.

Verizon itself recently settled a class-action lawsuit involving “junk fees” that were hidden and misleading in their contracts with customers. Customers received a $100 million settlement that was also available to any Verizon customer who was charged these junk fees, even if they weren’t involved in the lawsuit.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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