Are these zombie payments eating your finances alive?

Harvey Jones

Zombies do not just exist in movies, they can create havoc in your everyday life as well. If your bank account is full of direct debits and standing orders for things you no longer use, these living dead payments will inflict plenty of financial pain…

Millions of Britons are throwing away hundreds of pounds every year on these zombie payments, according to Citizens Advice. Shaking them off isn't easy, however, with nine out of 10 people who tried to escape an unwanted service initially refused, its research shows.

It is urging Britons to review bank and credit card statements and stop unwanted payments sucking the life out of their finances.

 

Living dead

Your accounts may be under attack from zombie subscriptions to digital TV channels, mobile phone contracts, Netflix and Spotify streaming services, Amazon Prime and the monthly gym.

The subscription trap is hugely lucrative for companies who know that many people will forget about the money and keep paying even if they no longer use the service.

Zombie payments cost people almost £340 a year on average, with almost a quarter paying between £480 and £600, according to research from GoCompare.

You may think the subscription is dead, but be careful, it may be very much alive.

 

Kill bills

Root out zombie payments by working through your bank and credit card statements to see where your money is going every month.

Watch out for changes to terms and conditions, including fees, and for errors and fraudulent payments. 

Your bank is legally obliged to immediately stop any direct debit or standing order on request, but check future statements to ensure the payment really has been killed off and no further money is coming out of your account.

You should also be on the alert for any payments you do not recognise, as fraud can also cost you dearly.

 

Avoid the trap

If you have locked into a contract the company may pursue you for any outstanding money.

Check your cancellation rights before signing up to a one-month free trial and make a note to review your decision before you are automatically rolled onto a contract and the first payment comes out of your account.

You are legally entitled to a 14-day cooling off period when you can cancel without penalty. Cancel quickly and in writing, so you have evidence that you acted ahead of any cut-off point.

 

Health problems

You should be particularly wary of deals that offer sample goods, often cosmetics or health supplements.

These can cost a small fortune, complaints resolution websites Resolver.co.uk says it has seen people paying out more than £100 a month. Be particularly wary of foreign-based companies as you may have fewer consumer rights and dealing with problems can be tricky.

To keep your finances alive and kicking, you need to stop these bloodsuckers now.