Micro charges are charges ranging from 20 cents to $10 and either are fraudulent, legitimate or fall into the category of “grey charges,” which describe sneaky recurring or unwanted charges.

These charges often go undetected because they are so small. Nine out of 10 credit card holders don’t scrutinize their statements carefully, allowing these scammers to get away with it.  In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit describing a criminal enterprise responsible for millions of dollars of micro charges.

In micro charges operations, scammers set up websites with toll-free numbers, which creates a “legitimate” web presence. With this facade, the websites are often granted merchant status, allowing them to process credit card orders.

The victims of this scam see the fictional merchant’s name and toll-free number on their credit card statements. If they attempt to dispute a charge, the toll-free numbers go to voicemail or get disconnected. Most frustrated consumers may not bother to take the additional step of disputing a 20-cent charge with the credit card company.

While 20 cents may not seem worth the bother, these seemingly minor charges only enrich the scammers. If you fail to recognize and dispute unauthorized transactions on your credit card statements, you take responsibility for the scammy charges.

Taking a moment to scrutinize your charges can save you money and headaches.

  • Pay attention to your statements. Micro charges are a red flag.
  • Monitor your purchases. Know what you’re getting into.
  • Check statements weekly or biweekly. Look for grey charges.

Sign up for BillGuard to watch your statements. It’s free, easy and effective. Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & advisor to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

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