DATCP warns of scam involving small credit card charges

By Ryan Billingham - Freeman Staff

June 13, 2014

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is warning credit card consumers about recent widespread scams involving small fraudulent charges easily overlooked by cardholders.

The DATCP said Thursday that a consumer complained about an unexpected charge of about $13 on his credit card from an unfamiliar company.

The fraudulent charge included a foreign transaction fee of $0.37. This situation is similar to another recent scam, where consumers worldwide found unauthorized charges of $9.84 on their monthly credit card statements.

“Scammers hope that consumers will overlook the small charge on their monthly statements or not review the statements at all," said Sandy Chalmers, state administrator of trade and consumer protection. "Report unauthorized charges immediately to minimize your liability."

Consumers should closely review their monthly statements. If an unauthorized charge appears on a statement, immediately contact the financial provider (using the number on the back of the credit card) to report the fraud and request a new card.

According to the DATCP, there are several steps you can take to protect your credit account and to lessen the potential for fraudulent activity in your accounts. Some tips to consider include:

- Do not give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you made the call to a company you know to be reputable.

- Carry your cards separately from your wallet to minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. Only carry the card you need for that outing.

- Keep your eye on your card during a transaction. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.

- Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.

- Save your receipts to compare with your statement.

- Open your bills promptly - or check them online often - and reconcile them with the purchases you have made.

- Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.

- Notify your card issuer if your address changes or if you will be traveling.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an email to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.