News Column

Agency warns of new credit card scam in Midstate

January 28, 2014

By Samantha Madison, The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.

Jan. 28 --Think scammers are only going to charge large amounts on stolen credit cards? The Better Business Bureau is warning that isn't always the case and suggests people check their statements regularly for a small charge of $9.84 . The organization warns that $9.84 charge may change as information gets out about the scam, but residents should be mindful of small charges. This latest con is how scammers go unnoticed; they bank on the fact that consumers won't check their credit card statements carefully. Ed Johnson , the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the metropolitan of Washington, D.C. , and eastern Pa., said this is a typical scam that has shown up from time to time over the last decade, but it's come to light recently in the past couple of weeks. He said the con aims to come in under the consumer's radar and go unnoticed so later the scammer can charge a bigger amount. "(Scammers) keep it as a very low, obscure amount in order not to draw any attention to it," Johnson said. "In addition, the services that are being charged for will vary, but here again they'll do something that won't draw very much attention. It might be for something like consumer services, just something that is very bland and won't really get your attention. Often times what scammers will do is they'll test the card for a fraudulent charge, for a small amount to see if it goes through. If it does and it's not challenged, then at a later point in time, they will go and do a larger amount." The scam takes it even farther than charging a consumer's card, Johnson said. Some people have reported that on the charge on their online statement, there is a website that offers "customer support." That support service then promises to refund 100 percent of the charge, but never actually does so. Some people have even called the customer support number and have gotten verbal confirmation that the charge would be canceled. Although the Better Business Bureau isn't sure if this latest scam is related to the recent data breaches at Target, Michaels and Neiman Marcus , it is possible they are connected. "The timing is interesting -- this is something that is moving rather quickly, and it's something that has been noticed and reported," Johnson said. "Whether or not there's a specific connection, we haven't been able to affirm that obviously, but the timing is interesting. The valuable lesson in all this is that it's so important that consumers take the time to look at every single one of the charges on their credit card statement and determine whether or not it's something that they remember or if it's something that is bogus." Credit and debit cards are both susceptible to this scam, and Johnson said if a debit card has been affected, the consumer should definitely cancel the card because they are less likely to get fraudulent charges back. Debit cards have different protections than credit cards do, so consumers can't refute charges on a debit card like a credit card. "With a debit card, it's like cash, you can't get the charges reversed," Johnson said. "If you have a debit card and there's a fraudulent charge on it, you should cancel the card altogether. Just always be cognizant of reducing your risk for credit card fraud." Email Samantha Madison at or follow her on Twitter @SentinelMadison ___ (c)2014 The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.) Visit The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Sentinel, The (Carlisle, PA)

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