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Is Online Spending Maxing Out Your Credit Cards?

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Managing your online credit card spending

Amazon, and Home Depot, and Target, oh my! Online spending is certainly on the rise in the midst of the global pandemic of 2020. As if online shopping wasn’t already an obsession for many, couple it with quarantine, and you’ve created an online shopping monster!

In fact, according to FinancesOnline, the United States is the leading country in the world for average e-commerce revenue per shopper!

It’s Real Cash

One of the reasons it is so easy to just click “Buy Now” and type in your credit card information is because it just doesn’t seem real. Without physically counting out the cash and handing it over and receiving just a few cents back in return or swiping the plastic, it does not feel like you are truly spending your money.

Essentially, it is much more difficult to conceptualize spending real paper money when you type in the numbers on the back of your credit card, especially if your computer has already saved your credit card information on there!

According to NPR, 78% of shoppers typically shop online to avoid waiting in line.

Below are a few tips to help to make this problem a little better for you and to help minimize your online credit card spending and purchases.

Stop Saving Your Credit Card Info

It will amaze you how much more time you have to think about the purchase you are about to make and if you really need that item in the time that you have to spend getting up from your computer or phone, searching for your wallet, typing in the credit card information, and putting the card back in your wallet and back where it belongs. This means no more impulse buying from bed, the bathroom, or the car. It helps to make yourself aware of the cost.

Avoid Online Pressuring Tactics

It’s out there: online sellers and marketplaces utilize many tools, subliminal messaging, and tactics to make you purchase online. If you pay attention, many “flash sales” actually run a lot longer, if not indefinitely, than they are advertised for. In other cases, some websites have a time limit on how long an item can be in your shopping bag. This makes you feel a false urgency to buy it right away. More often than not, if something sells out, it will be restocked.

The best tip to avoid being pressured into purchasing something is to keep in mind that if you are not actively searching for something specific, do not purchase it! If you stumble across something cool but do not necessarily need it, it is not worth racking up more charges on your credit card.

Get Organized: Budget

It sounds cheesy, but setting a budget in your spending specifically for online shopping sets boundaries in your head. You can even open up a separate account with a specific amount of money in there (a secured card) or you can conduct placing a spending limit on your credit card. It is important to sit down and take a look at your income and how much you have available for online shopping.

Minimizing your spending on credit cards, in general, is a very wise way to manage your finances. As a general rule of thumb, you should not be spending money that you do not have unless it is a necessary cost. Dialing in your online spending will allow extra funds in your pocket and can help to ensure that you do not find yourself in debt.

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How to Audit Your Medical Bills

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Medical issues are challenging to deal with on their own, but then come the medical bills. Unfortunately, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Medical bills can often be astronomically high, causing many people to fall into debt when trying to pay them off.

However, many Americans don’t realize that they should always be reviewing their medical bills to verify the charges are valid. This is especially true for people who are worried about paying their bills. An audit from Equifax found that hospital bills exceeding $10,000 had, on average, $1,300 in incorrect charges.

You may not need to check your bill thoroughly if you had just a simple consultation, but there are more likely to be errors if you had a more complicated visit, such as a surgery. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide and tips on how to audit your medical bills.

What to Do When Reviewing Your Medical Bills

Take these steps when auditing your medical bills:

Ask for an Itemized Copy

Your medical provider will likely send you a summarized version of your medical bill. This is a condensed version of your statement that groups charges into categories, so it doesn’t provide you the level of detail and insight you need to review your bill thoroughly.

If you receive a summary bill, reach out to the relevant parties and get the itemized version instead. You have the right to ask for an itemized bill, either from the billing department at the medical facility or online. Please note that even a small procedure can result in a multipage statement, so you’ll have a lot of reviewing to do.

Once you have the copy, review it for any suspicious items. This can include:

  • Double billings: Does a line item show up twice when you don’t think it should? For example, two doses of morphine when you’re sure you were only given one. You can compare charges to your medical records to verify or disprove items on your bill.
  • Non-procedural or non-medical-related items: Some hospitals have been caught trying to charge for things like hospital bed rentals, surgical equipment and other reusable supplies. Hospitals aren’t legally allowed to bill these items to patients, and you can dispute these charges immediately.
  • Unused items: Items such as slippers, toiletries and over-the-counter medication can cost hundreds of dollars if the hospital supplies them. For example, a simple over-the-counter painkiller, such as Tylenol, can cost as much as $15 for one pill. Dispute any false claims and, if you can remember to do so, bring your own slippers.
  • Mistaken identity: Mistakes happen on medical bills from time to time. A fellow patient with a similar name or insurance number could have all their medical treatments added to your invoice. Don’t fall victim to mistaken identity, and make sure your charges match your treatment.
  • Refused treatments: At some point during your medical care, you may have refused certain medications or treatments. If you did, make sure they don’t appear on your final bill.
  • Other: Watch out for any other charges that seem incorrect in any way, such as incorrect medication names or dosages, incorrect dates, the wrong name or address, wrong insurance information, wrong surgery minutes, incorrect room classification, and so on.

If there are any codes or words on your bill that you don’t understand, take the time to look them up. You should be able to find explanations online. Some useful resources include this Medical Dictionary, the Medicare code lookup tool and this ICD code reference tool. An ICD code ensures you were billed for the correct diagnosis.

Check Your EOB and Medical Records

Next, check your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) and your medical records. Compare these to a copy of your medical bill. You can get your EOB from your insurance provider. Your EOB will automatically come via mail or email and show what portion of the charges are being paid by the insurance provider. The statement will say “Not a bill” at the top.

You can get your medical records from your health provider. You will likely have to fill out a form requesting a copy of your medical records, and you may be charged a processing fee for the request. The cost can vary for each provider, but states usually limit how much a provider can charge. Ask up front what that fee will be.

Talk to Your Physician

Hospital stays are often traumatic, and it’s unlikely you remember every procedure or medication ordered by the doctor. It’s entirely within your rights to call your doctor and ask them to verify each item. Another sound strategy is to ask for a written copy of the original order. Hospitals can’t bill you for procedures not ordered by your doctor in writing. Compare the written copy of the original order to your medical bill and dispute anything that doesn’t match.

Keep Records of Everything

Keep records of everything, including receipts, dates of services and payments, healthcare visits and provider names. This will help you avoid confusion as you sort through all the details. It will also make any disputes easier as you have all your proof organized. Additionally, if you end up in small claims courts, records will be necessary for your lawsuit.

Hire an Auditor

If you have tried to dispute your bill to no avail, it’s time to take action. You can request an internal audit from the hospital and consider hiring your own auditing service to secure a second opinion. Escalating things to this stage usually uncovers errors in the billing and results in reduced costs.

What Should You Do Next?

Challenge the Charges in Question

The first step in challenging your medical charges is to contact the medical facility’s billing department and try to speak to someone who may reduce your expenses.

Many Americans don’t realize that medical charges are negotiable. Even if you can’t have items removed, you can ask for them to be reduced. Hospitals can ultimately charge whatever they want for medical costs, but you can compare your fees to what is considered standard. Use the FairHealth tool for comparison. If your charges are double or triple the standard, bring this up in negotiations.

You can also file an appeal with your insurance company.

Work With a Patient Advocate

If challenging the charges on your own doesn’t result in anything, you may consider hiring a patient advocate. An advocate will negotiate on your behalf, and they have the experience to garner results. Usually, advocates only charge you if they’re successful in getting a reduction in your bill, and their charges are typically a percentage of what you saved on the bill.

File a Formal Complaint

Some cases of medical price gouging are downright illegal. If you believe yours to be an unlawful situation, you have every right to file a formal complaint with your state’s attorney general’s office. Creating a record of abuse can also help protect your credit from further unfair damage.

Protect Your Credit

When your medical debt is sent to collections, you have a period of 180 days before it appears on your credit report. This means you have some time to work things out before your credit is impacted.

Ultimately, you need to make sure you take care of your bills in one way or another. Negotiate what you can, pay what you can and communicate with billing staff so they know what you’re doing. This can delay them from sending the billing to collections. Even if the medical debt isn’t fair, it can end up being sent to collections and ruining your credit.

Be proactive in auditing your medical bills quickly and acting as soon as you suspect anything is wrong. If you’ve already had medical bills show up on your credit report, you can still work to improve your credit score. Consider using credit repair services from Lexington Law. We’ll help you address any unfair and unverified negative items on your credit report. Get your credit score back on track today.


Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

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How to Refinance a Car Loan

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

You might have heard people talk about refinancing their home to get a better interest rate. But did you know you might be able to do that with your vehicle loan too? There are many reasons to refinance a vehicle loan, including potential interest savings if your credit has improved since you bought the car. Learn how to refinance a car loan below.

What Does It Mean to Refinance a Loan?

Refinancing a loan means taking out a new loan to cover the old debt. For example, imagine you bought a car for $20,000 and financed the entire purchase price. You’ve been paying on it for a while, and you now owe $15,000.

If you decide to refinance the loan, you get a new loan (with new terms) for $15,000. The funds from that new loan pay off the old loan, and you begin making monthly auto payments on the new loan.

Reasons to Consider Refinancing

Refinancing might sound like shuffling money around, but it can serve a purpose. Some reasons to consider refinancing a car loan can include:

  • You have better credit than you did when you first got the loan. You may be able to get a better interest rate on a refinance and save yourself a lot of money over the rest of the life of the loan. For example, the difference between three percent and six percent on a $25,000 car loan over 60 months is close to $2,000.
  • You want a lower monthly payment. You may be able to refinance with better terms or extend your loan longer, which can reduce your payment. For example, if you originally financed for 60 months, you could refinance for 72 months and reduce your payments.
  • You aren’t satisfied with your lender. If you don’t like the service at a specific restaurant, you dine somewhere else. If you don’t care for the quality of the goods at a certain store—or the cashiers there are always ringing you up incorrectly—you can start shopping somewhere else. And if you don’t like the quality of service you get from your current vehicle loan lender, you can refinance your loan and work with a different bank.

5 Steps for Refinancing Your Car Loan

While the details vary from situation to situation, the process for refinancing a car loan does not. If you want to know how to refinance a car loan, you can follow the steps below in most cases.

1. Decide If Refinancing Is Right for You

First, decide if refinancing a car loan is right for you. This is a financial process that might have an impact on your credit, so you do want to ensure you have a good reason for going through it. Weigh the benefits with any potential consequences.

For example, if you want to refinance to lower your car payment, you may refinance with a six-year loan. That could add several more years of payments—including interest—which could mean you pay more out over the life of the loan than you intended.

If you need the wiggle room in your budget right now but believe your income will increase in the near future, this might still be okay, because you could benefit from the lower payment now and then pay more on the car per month in the future to pay it off faster.

Obviously, your situation is unique, but applying this type of forward-thinking consideration helps you make the decision that’s right for you.

2. Gather Information and Check Your Credit

Once you have decided you want to refinance a car loan, start with a bit of research. Here is some of the information you may want to gather:

  • Information about your existing loan, including the interest rate, the monthly payment and your payoff amount. The payoff amount is around what you’ll need to borrow to refinance. It’s a good idea to know your interest rate and terms so you can tell if you’re getting a better deal with your refinance.
  • Your current income and personal details. You will likely need to enter this on any loan application.
  • Your credit score and an understanding of your credit history. Whether or not you can get better terms with your refinance may depend on whether or not your credit has improved or at least stayed the same, so it’s important to know where you stand before you start applying for loans.

3. Shop Around for the Best Terms

Research auto loan refinance options to find the best terms you may be able to apply for. In some cases, you might be able to get preapproved for loans based on information you enter and a pull on your credit report.

If you go through preapprovals or approvals for several loan options, make sure to keep your applications all within around a 14-day period. This helps ensure the credit bureaus treat it like one inquiry and not a bunch of hard inquiries for credit. Hard inquiries lower your credit score slightly, so when you can limit them to one, it’s better for you.

4. Prepare and Submit Your Loan Application

Once you choose a lender, prepare and submit your loan application. Take your time entering all information. A loan application could be denied simply because a typo made it impossible to pull your credit or made it look like you didn’t make enough money to afford the monthly payment.

If you apply for an auto refinance online, you may hear back within seconds. But in some cases, lenders might take one or two days to respond. They might also reach out to ask you for more information as they consider your loan. If you apply, keep an eye on your contact methods, such as emails or texts, and respond in a timely manner to any requests for documentation or clarification.

If you don’t respond, your loan application could be denied simply because the lender didn’t have all the information they needed to make a decision.

5. Begin Making Payments on Your New Loan

When the loan is approved, the new lender will make a direct payment to the old lender. Your old loan is paid off and closed, and you begin managing your new loan. Make sure you start making payments on time to the new loan to avoid fees and negative reports to the credit bureaus. You might think that you have improved your financial situation and credit history over time and are in a great place to refinance a car loan.

But when you check your credit, you might find some surprise negative items bringing down your score and affecting your opportunity at refinancing to save money. If you discover inaccurate or fraudulent negative items on your credit report, Lexington Law’s credit repair services can help you challenge them and set the record straight for the benefit of your credit score.


Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

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How Long Should I Keep Credit Card Statements?

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Do you have filing cabinets stuffed full of old records, or a pile of paperwork on the kitchen counter that dates back six months? If you’re asking yourself how long you should keep credit card statements or other important documents, get some guidance below.

How Long Should You Keep Credit Card Statements?

It’s a good idea to keep credit card statements for one year. That’s true for bank statements and your paycheck stubs too. Here’s why:

  • You may need the documents to verify information, such as whether you were charged for or paid for a service.
  • Credit card and bank statements help you get a big picture of your spending habits, which can be important when setting up or evaluating a personal budget.
  • When you’re filing your taxes, you can turn to these documents to verify business expenses or charitable donations.
  • Statements can provide proof that you made a loan payment on time if you ever need to dispute a late payment.

When you first receive a statement, review it for accuracy before you make any payment and file the document away. The sooner you address an inaccuracy, such as a charge that you didn’t authorize, the better your chances are at getting the issue resolved.

One great thing about credit card statements, as well as bank statements and pay stubs, is that you don’t have to keep physical copies. If you have online access to the information, you can pull it up as needed. You may want to download and save copies of your statements, though, because in some cases, if you close your account, you may not have access to the information anymore.

What About Other Records?

Credit card and bank statements are far from the only financial paperwork most people deal with. Here’s a quick rundown of how long you should keep other types of documents.

Tax Documents

You should keep a copy of your actual tax returns forever. You may need them in the future for reference or as supporting documents when you want to buy a home or take another action that requires proving your income.

All of the backup information that goes with your tax returns, such as W2 income forms and receipts, should be kept as long as there’s a potential audit window. You’ll need those documents if the IRS asks questions about your return. According to the IRS, it usually doesn’t go back more than six years, so you can probably toss supporting documents after that time.

Legal Filings

Keep legal documents such as bankruptcy filings, lawsuits or motions forever. This is also true for documents related to major financial events with legal ramifications such as wills, powers of attorney or estate filings.

Utility Bills and Other Receipts

Bills for utilities, insurance and other services don’t need to be kept very long. You can typically toss them within a month. If you paid the bill and have documentation that the payment cleared, such as a new statement reflecting the credit, you typically don’t have a lot of use for the old bill.

The same is true for most receipts. Unless you’re going to claim an expense on your taxes or want to hold on to the receipt in case you need to return something, you can usually toss a receipt as soon as you see the correct amount cleared your financial account.

How Should You Store Your Documents?

All of the above documents can contain sensitive information, so you want to store them in such a way that they’re kept confidential and private. You also want to ensure they’re as safe as possible from the elements and disasters involving fire and water.

The most important documents, such as your Social Security card and passport, you may want to keep in a fireproof, waterproof, locked safe. These are the types of documents that would cost a fair amount in time, money and hassle to replace.

For other documents, create a filing system in a filing cabinet or file box. Use folders so that you can easily find the information you need and make time at least once a year to go through the documents to purge items that are no longer necessary.

If you’re tech savvy, you can convert many of your paper documents to digital files. Do so by scanning them in and saving them on a cloud drive or an external hard drive. Some documents, such as legal forms, require original notarized signatures or stamped certificates for validity and may need to be maintained in paper copy.

How Should You Get Rid of Documents?

When you’re ready to get rid of old documents, shred them using a shredder for utmost security. Many times, the print on these types of documents is quite small. Simply tearing the paperwork up by hand doesn’t get the pieces small enough that information isn’t easily accessed or put back together by fraudsters.

Safeguard All of Your Information

Whether you’re dealing with physical paperwork or digital documents, take steps to safeguard your sensitive information. All an identity thief needs is a few bits of information, such as a Social Security number and address to start gathering enough information to take out credit in your name.

Use strong passwords for all of your accounts. That typically means a password that is eight characters or more and has upper and lower-case letters as well as numbers and special characters. Avoid using easy strings of information, real words and names.

Shred your paper copies and keep items out of public access. You should also check your credit reports regularly to ensure no suspicious activity is reported.

If you do find something odd on your credit reports or you just want a partner in monitoring your credit and keeping yourself safe from identity thieves, contact Lexington Law to learn more about our services.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

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