THE BLOG
06/18/2014 01:36 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2014

Banks Helping Customers Identify Potentially Unwanted Charges

Capital One is leading the way for banks helping customers smoke out potentially invalid charges. Capital One's service is free, called Second Look. Second Look is designed to flag potentially duplicate charges, increases in recurring charges and auto-renewing subscriptions. These charges have been known as "grey charges." Not illegal, not fraud, but sometimes fishy and unethical.

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Soon, Second Look will be available to all of Capital One's branded credit card customers, though some of its card customers can currently use the service. Sign-up will not be necessary.

Duplicate charges occur by the millions every year, and though many can be simply explained, others result from error.

Second Look takes over for the two out of three customers who overlook what may be duplicate charges. This service sends e-mails that include instructions for the customer should they decide to challenge a charge. Customers can contact Capital One or the merchant.

A recent pilot test revealed that customers, upon receiving a Second Look notification, were three times more likely to challenge a charge.

The recurring charges that Second Look keeps tabs on include utility bills. If such a bill is suddenly a lot bigger, this will trigger Second Look's alert. How often do most people keep track of what their electric bill, heating bill or cable bill is month after month?

As a result of the pilot test, over one-fourth of the customers have contacted the merchant or provider to question an increase in a bill.

Second Look also flags auto-renew-type subscriptions and memberships. This includes the kind in which a charge is instituted after a free introductory trial period.

With this free service, customers can feel more confident doing business with Capital One. To learn more about the service, visit www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/benefits/second-look/.