Scam Alert! Check Your Credit Card Statements Carefully

Scam Alert! Check Your Credit Card Statements Carefully
Image: Pixabay
January 27, 2014

Wondering if your credit card number could have been stolen and now be in the hands of a thief? Look for a charge for $9.84 on your credit card statement.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a fraud alert last week about a raft of consumer complaints all reporting the same nominal charge. The business levying this fee may purport to provide "customer support," or it may simply identify itself as any one of a number of different websites.

The fraud, uncovered by a former Washington Post reporter who writes an investigative blog called KrebsOnSecurity, apparently relies on consumer carelessness. Where an unfamiliar charge for a large amount would be spotted by most consumers, little charges can go unnoticed.

Krebs writes in his blog that the charges, most of which were reported over the holiday season, may have been spotted because consumers are being more vigilant in the wake of the massive Target breach that affected as many as 70 million consumers. His investigation into the fees led him through a labyrinth of 230 websites that were all connected to one of a handful of individuals located in London, India and Cyprus.

The bottom line for credit card customers is a simple one: If you spot a charge for $9.84 on your credit card statement, call the card issuer. It's likely that your card or card number is in the hands of a crook. You need a new card and to place a fraud alert on your credit file.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has also issued a consumer advisory to help consumers protect themselves in the wake of the recent credit and debit card data security breaches.

According to the CFPB, consumers should regularly monitor their accounts online if possible, and at a minimum examine their monthly statements closely. Consumers should report even small problems immediately as some thieves may process a small charge or debit just to see if the account is live, or whether the consumer notices.

Fraudulent charges may occur many months after information is stolen. Even if consumers think that the PIN associated with their debit card was not stolen, they should still consider changing their number, just to be on the safe side.