Be careful of the scams that are perfectly legal

We have all heard about the many illicit scams that are trying to separate us fools from our money.

However, we never hear about the legal ones.

I rarely examine my credit card bills — unless I see that the numbers are going up and not down, I just pay up and shred. Recently, I managed to pay off my Macy’s bill, so I was puzzled when I received an envelope in the mail.

I opened it up and to my chagrin, Macy’s was charging me $2 for interest.

When I called to question the charge, I was told that it was because I was late in my payment.

I explained that I was not late — I had paid the account in full, on time, and did not owe Macy’s one red cent. The agent was very nice, and said there must have been a mistake and would reverse the charge.

A few days later, I found out that a friend was also charged this $2.00 fee for late payments from Macy’s, and like me, she was not late, and in fact had paid off her bill as well.

Yesterday, my daughter — another Macy’s card holder — received the same notice that the retailer was charging her $2 in interest because she was late in payment, even though she had paid off the bill, on time and in full.

After a phone call, they reversed her fee, too.

Now maybe it was just an honest mistake, or maybe it was a computer glitch that spit out bills to everyone, but I have a feeling that Macy’s would have never reversed anything if we didn’t call. After all, $2 from each customer is a whole lot of money.

The other scheming company is Amazon. Yes, it’s great — two-day free delivery, and it always has anything you might ever want, and all at the touch of a button — but its payment system leaves a lot to be desired.

Prime membership is $99 per year. You can either pay it all up-front, or Amazon will break it down and charge you monthly for the privilege. However, what it doesn’t say is that when you pay monthly you are being overcharged a bundle.

When I opened this past month’s bill, I saw the balance had gone up, even though I didn’t buy anything. I examined the bill and noticed a charge of $11.97. Curious, I called the company and was told it was the monthly service fee for Prime membership. I did a quick calculation and realized that at $11.97 a month for 12 months the membership fee was nearly $45 more than the $99 I had bargained for.

Amazon, of course, is now sending me a return check for the overpayment — but in the end, it is always “buyer beware.”

Not for nuthin, but it isn’t the thieves in the night we need to worry about — it’s the banks and credit card companies that are trying to separate us fools from our money. And legally too!

Follow me on Twitter @JDelBuono.

Joanna DelBuono writes about national issues every Wednesday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail her at jdelbuono@cnglocal.com.