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That $9.84 charge on your bill may be fraud

Thieves know it's a lot easier to sneak a charge of less than $10 on to your credit card than it is a larger one -- and should you spot a small one on your bill, you need a new card.

By Credit.com Jan 29, 2014 12:28PM

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyWith all the stories of major retailers losing millions of credit card account numbers, you are probably scouring your monthly bills looking for fraudulent charges like a $700 plane ticket or $600 television you didn't buy. That might be a big mistake. One common way credit card hackers steal commit fraud, and get away with it, is to avoid getting greedy. Through the years, they've found it's much easier to steal a little money from a lot people, rather than a lot of money from a few people. For example: It's much easier to sneak a $10 charge on 10,000 cards than a $10,000 charge onto 10 cards, but the haul is the same.


Big-ticket charges for electronics or airfare stick out like a sore thumb on a credit card bill. Busy consumers are much less likely to spot a small charge, or they might even decide a tiny Woman surprised (© Purestock/SuperStock)fraud isn’t worth the phone call to get it item removed, and to face the hassle of getting a new card. Hackers, as always, prey on human nature. There seems to be something magical about the $10 threshold.


The Better Business Bureau issued a warning about this type of fraud on Monday after reports surfaced of a series of $9.84 charges finding their way onto consumers' credit cards. Consumers who visit the the website listed next to the charge see a curious page that offers customer support, the BBB says.


"The text promises to 'refund 100 percent of your last payment,' and provides a phone number and email address," said the BBB in a statement. "Victims report calling the ‘customer support’ site and receiving verbal confirmation that the charge would be canceled. However, don’t take the scammers at their word. 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."


Independent security journalist Brian Krebs first described the $9.84 charge problem earlier this month. His website lists two dozen domains associated with the charges.


"If I had to hazard a charitable guess about what is going on here, I would say some ambitious ‘affiliates’ associated with these moneymaking schemes were abusing the system and pushing through charges on stolen credit cards," Krebs wrote.


While it's possible the source of some of stolen credit card numbers being used to make these $9.84 charges are the caches of account numbers taken recently from Target, Neiman Marcus, and possibly Michaels, that's unclear at the moment. Some of the domains involved were registered more than a year ago, suggesting they predate the latest round of credit card hacks.


Either way, the key point remains: The most likely way individual consumers will be harmed by the Target hack is if they don't notice small, sub-$10 fraudulent charges on their credit cards, and pay the bill.


So look carefully for suspicious items on your bills, both large and small. If you don't notice it, you'll pay for it.


(Editor's Note: A good way to keep your identity safe in the wake of the major data breaches is to monitor your credit in addition to monitoring your monthly financial statements. You can check your credit scores every month for free using the Credit Report Card. Any sudden and unexpected change in your credit score could signal identity theft, and you should pull your credit reports (which you can do for free) to ensure you haven't been compromised.)


More from Credit.com:






103Comments
Jan 29, 2014 6:24PM
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Hackers should have their fingers hacked off with a rusty cleaver !
Jan 29, 2014 3:57PM
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the best thing to do only have one credit card and balance it like you would a checkbook.  It is not the smartest thing in the world to have 10 credit cards.  You are just asking for trouble.
Jan 29, 2014 5:09PM
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This does happen.  I was charged $10 dollars by Radio Shack, and while there are Radio Shacks in my area, it said on my statement that this was the Radio Shack in San Antonio, Texas.  I've NEVER been to Texas.  I called my bank and got a new card.

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This is why you sit down and check off each and every purchase, the only reason folks get away with this is because card holders are lazy and just pay the bill. Every month we go thru the list and mark who spent what and check them off.
Jan 29, 2014 8:05PM
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People should go on line every other day and check the activity on their cards.  And they should review each monthly statement carefully.  The same is true with their bank accounts.  It takes a few minutes a week but it is time well spent.  Nobody is going to look out for you.  So you better look out for yourself. 
Jan 29, 2014 3:58PM
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THAT'S IT MSN - - -  KEEP IT UP WITH YOUR TRIVIAL DRIBBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feds blow $100 billion a year on incorrect payments
The Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS are 2 of the biggest offenders, but the food stamp program is a success story.

Between 2002 and 2012, federal agencies spent more than half a trillion dollars ($688 billion) on payments that should never have been made.


Every year, according to their own record-keeping, the agencies that administer major federal programs are now paying out more than $100 billion improperly, and even though they're aware of the problem, they recover only a tiny fraction for taxpayers. This adds up to huge losses for the U.S. Treasury.


Jan 29, 2014 6:37PM
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I was charged about that on a card that I didn't even have & never had before.  I'd gotten it by mail, but never activated it, it went into the garbage cut  in half.

They said it was an online purchase when I called them.  I let them know I'd NEVER activated a visa card from them and told them they could stick it!!

They evidently corrected it, because I never heard from them again.

Jan 29, 2014 5:46PM
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Thanks MSN! Why dont you write this story down and send it to last week, when all the other media outlets were breaking the news!
Jan 29, 2014 2:30PM
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If you have and use a Credit card and fail to monitor it you deserve what happens. It is your reponsibilty.
Jan 29, 2014 6:59PM
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I have found a few fraudulent charges on my account, but it was the credit card company trying to eek out a few dollars more "accidently".  (please proof read your article before posting, or was "steal" instead of "still" a pun?)
Jan 29, 2014 5:37PM
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Also be aware of Xbox Live Charges under Microsoft billing. I once used my card to purchase Microsoft points for a friends child and Xbox Live billed me for their Xbox Live account once they had my information. They would not delete or remove the charges because I did not have the information on the Xbox Live account so I did not have permission to access that account.  I contacted my bank and had to cancel my card. They could only go back 6 months in refunds but I would never use a card again , just buy a prepaid card and let the parents deal with it !!!
Jan 29, 2014 8:52PM
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a wish.........may all hackers die ...........tonight
Jan 29, 2014 9:30PM
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While a good bit of this falls on the shoulder of hackers, how is it so many people seems to think that they're the only ones who can get your information nowadays?   Since the term "hacker" emerged a few decades ago, people love to blame a hacker, instead of blaming themselves for a lack of security and common financial sense.  It couldn't possibly be the crooked bartender at  that shady bar down the street.. Or that jilted waitress who feels she deserved more for her service. They can use your info, or sell it.  The fact is, anytime you take that credit card out to make a purchase, you put yourself at risk.  You don't even need to take it out of your pocket. RFID scanners can get your info from a mere 3' away.   You don't have to be a hacker to get or know how to use an RFID scanner either. Most department stores have them. Speaking of...that's another source.  Cashiers at department stores seem to run around like chickens with their heads cut off on a busy day (From what i've seen). Never let anyone walk away with your credit card. If they have to get something to finish a transaction, insist they leave the card with you.
Jan 29, 2014 3:04PM
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The under $10.00 charge becomes one of two things. First being elderly and disabled I tend to forget so I just aline it with that. Then there is the agrivation of calling this one and doing this or that to get it removed. The trouble in disputing something gets a bit too complicated for this person.
Jan 29, 2014 7:25PM
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If you deal with credit card companies online they ask if you want to opt out of paper

statements.  Tell me, does anyone click over to the statement and look at it before paying?

Then online banking offers automatic bill pay and one does not even see a statement.

I for one do this, so it is easy to add charges to my bill without me ever knowing it.  I am

going back to paper statements on all my accounts, the cable companies like to give you

a song and dance on the charges that are added on for whatever reason.  Pay cash, not??

Jan 29, 2014 9:29PM
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I agree with some of the others here on the number of credit cards one should carry, no more that two, balance and pay them in full monthly.... otherwise your potentially have a problem and extra charges.
Jan 30, 2014 10:23AM
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Not with me. I always check to make certain I clearly authorized a charge.

Years ago, after I filled my car with gas, I found a small charge for $5 on my statement made on the day I filled my car with gas. I knew I did not authorized that charge, for I only bought gas and nothing from the gas station grocery store. I wrote to my CC company and said I will not pay that $5 given I only bought gas at that gas station. The CC company drop the $5 from my account. 

So if thieves think they can plug small charges on my account and get away with it, they would be wrong, given I will contest even these small charges. 
Jan 30, 2014 11:42AM
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I think they learned that trick from the phone companies. Audit your phone bill as well as your credit card bills.
Jan 29, 2014 7:29PM
Jan 30, 2014 9:46AM
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Out of reality, this has been going on for some time now. If someone gets your credit card, it is so easy to make a small purchase and not get caught. You would be surprise how many people just go ahead and pay their balance without looking at the charges.
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