Consumers with credit and debit cards across the UK have been warned to be on their guard against a scam that has struck repeatedly across America.
It is believed that the £5.95 credit card scam could be set for British shores and now a major US consumer protection group is urging everyone to be careful.
The scam sees cards hit with an unexplained charge of $9.84 (£5.95) and relies on the fact that many people do not check their card statements in great detail.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has said the fraud involves criminals using stolen data to charge the card the small sum.
Keeping a close eye on statements
When those hit have investigated further, they have discovered that they have unwittingly paid a website that offers some sort of “online program”
While the websites say they will “refund 100% of your last payment”, it is not known if this occurs or if any people have tried to claim.
According to the BBB, “Victims report calling the ‘customer support’ site and receiving verbal confirmation that the charge would be cancelled. However don’t take the scammers at their word.”
The organisation advises that people affected contact their banks as quickly as possible to report the charges and to request a new card.
It warns that the scammers could strike again, if they have been successful already.
In America, the scam was exposed by a former Washington Post columnist who has since traced the scam to a network of operators across the world, from Cyprus to India and the UK.
If £5.95 appears on a bank statement, or if a sum appears in dollars, customers should contact their bank immediately.
While the amount might seem relatively small, it is though criminals have collectively netted large amounts through the scam.
It is believed that many people do not notice that the money has left their account, or are left unconcerned by the small nature of such a charge.
Unlike credit and debit cards, prepaid cards are not directly linked to a bank account making fraudulent activity a lot more difficult.
For those with concerns over their funds, transferring some to a prepaid card can also help to control spending, as only the sums on the card can be spent.
The cards can however be topped up if necessary and can be replaced if they are lost or stolen without funds being affected.