If a random charge of less than $10 appeared on your credit card statement, would you look into it? While you may be inclined to say yes, in our busy day-to-day lives, many people just shrug and ignore small unrecognized charges, assuming they must be harmless.
NPR reported earlier this month that consumers throughout the United States have been receiving a charge of $9.84 on their credit cards, and it isn’t a bank fee or legitimate purchase. It is the result of scammers who hope you will just ignore it.
Steve Barnas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in northern Illinois, was interviewed by NPR about this situation. He says most of these charges are labeled as “web support” or “customer support.”
He told NPR, “And basically [what] they are really trying to do is get really pedestrian, in essence, so it flies underneath the radar.”
This is a common scam, experts said. They start small and hope you don’t notice. If you keep the account open, they can later make higher purchases. With charges looking so minor, if it’s on a joint account, the spouse will probably assume the other spouse made the charge.
NPR also interviewed Brian Krebs, of KrebsonSecurity.com, who began investigating this particular scam after complaints started surfacing on online forums. He said this scam is unrelated to the Target breach and appears to have started well before it.
“Never give out personal information when
you receive a call you did not initiate.”
How did the thieves steal credit cards?
According to NPR, “Krebs says the fraudsters hired call centers in India and set up websites that were fronts to look legitimate.” As soon as you make a purchase with your card, they have your numbers and can make unauthorized purchases with it.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends to NPR readers and listeners that they should always review their credit card statements line by line. If you ever see a charge you aren’t sure about, never hesitate to investigate.
If it’s a joint account, check with the account sharer to see if they made the charge. If they didn’t make it or are unsure, call your issuer immediately and ask them to look into it. If the charge appears to be fraudulent, request a new credit card.
To avoid becoming a victim of these types of crimes, NPR says you should never give out personal information such as account numbers when you have received a phone call you did not initiate, even if they say they are with your bank.
Always hang up and call your bank’s official phone number to confirm whether it was a scam. Remember, your banks and other businesses will never ask for confidential, personal information via email or phone.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.