Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Various credit cards. / Elise Amendola, AP

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

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

The scheme predates the recent security breach involving more than 100 million customers at Target. But it's likely that the massive worldwide attention surrounding the Target investigation has helped expose the $9.84 scam.

Brian Krebs, whose blog krebsonsecurity.com has monitored the latest scam, says many cardholders are reviewing their charges more closely in recent weeks, leading them to flag the $9.84 charges.

Nevertheless, Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at 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."

Anyone can buy 10,000 stolen card numbers in online forums where stolen data, malicious software and other illicit goods and services are sold. Stolen credit card data floods into criminal forums on a steady basis.

More than 740 million credit cards and other records were exposed in 2013, making it the worst year in terms of data breaches recorded -- and that's a very conservative estimate -- according to the Online Trust Alliance.

Mark McCurley, information security adviser at consultancy Identity Theft 911, says cybercriminal gangs from Cyprus, the United Kingdom and India are known for purchasing stolen credit card numbers on the black market and making fraudulent $9.84 charges.

What makes the Cyprian, British and Indian scammers distinctive is their diligence in purchasing dozens of domain names, then creating dummy websites that look credible. With that structure in place, they have been using stolen payment card numbers, probably purchased in the cyber underground, to make many small charges, McCurley says.

Krebs says it's not clear how big the fraud is, "but when you see hundreds of pages of complaints on customer complaint forums, you know it's big." He says the scam apparently spiked around the holidays, when credit card bills tend to be bloated with purchases large and small. He advises anyone who uncovers a fraudulent $9.84 charge to get a new credit card.

"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."

The Better Business Bureau says the source listed on the credit card bill is 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.

"The whole thing can be built around that phone number," Krebs tells USA TODAY. "If you complain, they want to take it off because they don't want you to complain to Visa or MasterCard."

The bureau says some victims of the $9.84 scam report calling the "customer support" site and being told the charge would be canceled. "Don't take the scammers at their word," the bureau warns.

Detweiler says not all scammers will refund the money. Some promise a refund but 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.

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

"This seems like a run-of-the-mill stolen card scam," says Cameron Camp, a researcher at antivirus firm ESET. "The idea is to keep the scam running under the radar for as long as possible with a series of tiny transactions designed to avert suspicion."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: If the credit charge was $9.84, take a closer look

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

WED
23
THU
24
FRI
25
SAT
26
SUN
27
MON
28
TUE
29

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX