If the credit charge was $9.84, take a closer look

If the credit charge was $9.84, take a closer look

If the credit charge was $9.84, take a closer look

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by USA TODAY

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 2:36 PM

USA TODAY - -If you see a $9.84 charge on your credit card statement, you should give it a hard look.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers are charging stolen credit card numbers for a small amount of money, and many recent victims were charged $9.84. The scammers believe many cardholders won't review purchases involving such small amounts -- and that credit card companies won't aggressively investigate them, the bureau says.

Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com, tells USA TODAY that cardholders too often overlook small charges.

"It can be a lot easier for a crook to steal small amounts from thousands of customers than large amounts from a few," Detweiler, says. "This kind of theft can be extremely easy since it's unlikely to raise red flags."

The bureau does not connect the scam to the security breach involving more than 100 million Target customers. But some experts say credit card owners are reviewing their charges more closely and discovering the scam.

The BBB says that for the $9.84 scam, the source listed on the credit card bill is an unfamiliar website that turns out to be a generic landing page that claims to offer "Customer Support." The text promises to "refund 100% of your last payment" and provides a phone number and e-mail address.

Detweiler says a common trick among scammers is to promise a refund but then never produce it. "That gives them time to pocket as much money as possible before they close shop -- to likely set up shop again under another name," she says.

Detweilr stresses the importance of disputing even a small fraudulent charge right away. She says the scammer could be "testing the waters" with your card. If they are, then bigger charges may follow.

The BBB says some victims of the $9.84 scam report calling the "customer support" site and receiving verbal confirmation that the charge would be canceled.

"Don't take the scammers at their word," the BBB says in a statement. The bureau suggests that you contact your bank to report the charges and request a new credit card.

"Your card card information has been compromised, and it's likely scammers will be back for more," the bureau says.

Brian Krebs, in his blog Krebs on Security, says he heard about the scam from a number of readers who "wondered whether this was the result of the Target breach; I suppose I asked for this, having repeatedly advised readers to keep a close eye on their bank statements for bogus transactions."

Krebs says it isn't clear how the credit card numbers are being stolen in the U.S., but that the fraud appears to stem from "an elaborate network of affiliate schemes that stretch from Cyprus to India and the United Kingdom."

Krebs reports that this type of scam is not new. This particular scam, he says, apparently spiked around the holidays but can be traced back to mid-2013. He agrees with the BBB, advising that anyone who uncovers such a charge get a new credit card.

"After all, it's a good bet that your card is in the hands of crooks," Krebs says. "and is likely to be abused like this again."

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