Protecting yourself

Tiny charges could mean big trouble

Tyler Metzger

Ever charged 19 cents on your credit card? I never have, and I imagine most of you haven’t either.

But several Internet message boards are on fire with complaints from credit card users who spotted a mysterious charge of about 25 cents on their statements.

According to the Boston Globe, the tiny, unauthorized charges are coming from Adele Services in Melville, N.Y. Currently, there is no business by that name registered in New York, and an Internet search for the company only turns up those same online forums complaining about the charge.

A few users claim the charges are coming from somewhere in Texas because “TXUS” appears on their statement.

Consumers speculate that fraudsters are either testing illegally obtained credit card numbers before buying large-ticket items, or they’re making millions of tiny charges in hopes they will add up.

The Better Business Bureau says those consumers charged fraudulently haven’t seen anything big yet, but estimates that millions of people could have been hit.

No one is sure how the charges were made, but consumer advocates say the numbers are either being generated randomly by a computer, or are the result of phishing scams. Phishing occurs when thieves pretend to represent legitimate companies and contact consumers to obtain and exploit their credit card information.

One thing is for sure though: If you see a small charge like this, dispute it with your credit card company. Also, report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and be very careful with your credit card information, especially online.

Be aware that a small, unauthorized charge on your statement could be a sign of more serious fraud to come. Once the tiny charge is cleared, criminals might begin to drain large amounts from your account. Placing a security freeze on your credit files might be a good idea, as it will prevent any new lines of credit being opened in your name.

See related: If you’re a victim of fraud or identity theft, Notes from the underground: The next generation of carders, The secret history of and Dmitry Ivanovich Golubov

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  • Great post!
    Actually, some people do not mind the 19 cents charged to their credit card simply because it is too small amount to be of a major concern. Little do they know that, most of the time, these are phishers/ scammers checking if that credit card number is a “live” one. One these scammers are sure that the credit card is ok, they would start using it to purchase several items. This is the only time the credit card owner will realize that his or her credit card has been compromised.