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Beware: This $9.84 Credit-Card Charge Isn't As Harmless As It Seems

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Credit-card scam artists are continually coming up with new scams, while improving upon old ones. A major scam that's in the news these days is a seemingly innocuous $9.84 charge appearing on many people's credit card statements.

It may seem harmless and minor, but that's the point. The scam is perpetrated by those who have stolen great gobs of credit card numbers, and they're charging a modest sum on each one. (At Target alone, for example, tens of millions of customer accounts recently had data stolen, and Target is one of many such huge corporate victims.) The scammers are correctly thinking that most people won't notice, or won't bother contesting, such a small charge. If you see a false $9.84 charge, though, don't ignore it.

What to do
First off, remember that it's not just a $9.84 charge you need to look out for -- scammers might charge any small or large amount to your account fraudulently. If you find any false charge, contact the issuing bank or card company immediately. Ask that the charge be removed and a new card issued.

This can serve as a handy reminder, too, that when it comes to security, you should favor credit cards over debit cards, because regulations protecting you against fraud are stronger for credit cards than debit cards. Also, if you often buy things online or over the phone, handing out your credit card number in the process, only do business with reputable outfits. The FBI offers even more tips on avoiding credit card fraud.

Be proactive, too, checking not only your credit card statements but also your credit reports regularly.

Other scams
This is just one of many scams perpetrated upon a trusting public. The folks at found "phishing" and identity theft to be the biggest scam categories in 2013, followed by lottery and sweepstakes scams, where gullible people cough up dollars to collect their even bigger alleged winnings. Third on their list were fake online shopping sites, eager to take your credit card numbers and not send you the items that you believed you were ordering.

Another growing scam category is tax-related fraud. For example, scammers who have your Social Security number and name might be able to snag your tax refund before you do. And with that information, they might even be able to apply for credit cards in your name, using their own addresses.

A bit of good news is that credit card companies hate these scams, too, and once they notice patterns such as widespread $9.84 charges, they often take steps to prevent damage to customers and their own accounts. But they'll never control it all, so we all need to be smart and wary when dealing with credit -- and debit -- cards. 

Your credit card may soon be worthless
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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (30)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 8:54 PM, normgarry wrote:

    I check my bank accounts using apps more than 3 times a day. Constantly monitoring them for any fraudulent charge. I've been hit with credit fraud twice, but Capital One took care of everything.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2014, at 9:47 PM, atkinskd wrote:

    Citi just had to fraud investigation for me on $8.78 a month. The charge description comes in for all sorts of stuff. From Children's educational products to Concierge Pharmacy services. They got me on a card with a balance (lawyer fees) that I don't typically use so it took several months for me to get wise to it. When a charge showed up after I had paid it off I was a little miffed.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 12:41 AM, TheAncient wrote:

    Once I saw 2 $5 charges to my card on the same day at a place I never shop, WalMart. I called my card company immediately and they closed that card issuing me a new one. I check every charge on every statement each month.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2014, at 10:44 AM, ugo wrote:

    I get calls three times a week from a credit card services scammer. I have pushed one to have them take me off their list, and I have remained on the line to talk to an operator to ask them to take me off their list, but they keep calling.They are fishing for credit card numbers.These calls have continued for about a year and a half despite reporting them online. Many others have reported them also, seeing all those complaints on those who is calling me sites. Why is no one doing anything about these crooks?

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 7:43 PM, FoolinSD wrote:

    I'm starting to miss phishing & other scams. it was fun keeping them on the line or play pranks on them - "can u hold on a sec... hey joe, can u run a trace on my line /click/" sadly though, those are the grunts. its those "masterminds" that need to be sent out the airlock.

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Selena Maranjian

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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