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Small, mysterious charges could indicate credit card fraud

By now, most of our Chicago-area readers have heard about the large data breach that took place during the holiday shopping season at Target stores. Data for many customers around the country was compromised, leading many financial institutions to reissue credit cards in case of fraud on the part of those who illicitly acquired the data.

While this might be the most highly publicized theft of information, it's by no means the only one. Recently, the Better Business Bureau alerted consumers to a scam whereby consumers are being charged a specific total -- $9.84, to be precise -- on their credit cards for something that they didn't authorize.

A fraudulent charge of $9.84 might not seem like much -- but that might be the point. While people would certainly question large charges that they didn't recall, a small charge to an account might go unchallenged. However, thousands of small charges could add up to a substantial sum for the scammers.

This is just one more reason why Illinois consumers need to keep on top of their credit card statements. Credit card debt can accumulate and build fast enough -- without the help of criminals from other countries who are trying to pull a fast one.

In fact, not looking at one's credit card bill could be a symptom of excessive debt. However, large mounds of debt won't go away by ignoring them -- just the opposite, in fact. People who have trouble paying their bills might turn to bankruptcy as a way to escape crushing debt and get a fresh financial start.

Source: CBS News, "Got a charge for $9.84 on your credit card? Beware," Kathy Kristof, Jan. 27, 2014

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