This is the time of year that credit cards are made for. This is also the time of year that Credit Card thieves live for. Methods vary from simple to techno-wiz. Here are the top ten plus a bonus way your credit card can be 'stolen' by a crook.
1. Steal the card: low tech but easy to do, even if it is one at a time. To get the PIN, they might guess or spy on you before they grab and run.
2. Steal the machine. More muscle than brain, steal an ATM or POS terminal. Obviously they can grab the money stored in an ATM, but did you know that card information may be stored in the machine after you use it?
3. Offline Account Takeover. They grab the new credit card of credit card offer from your mailbox. Sometimes they change your address so you know about the billing until the collectors call asking why you aren’t paying for your mink lined dog stroller 6 months and $50,000 later. If your bank is on the ball, they are likely to spot this.
4. Separate skimming device. If they can get your card for a few moments, they can 'swipe' your card, grab and store the information they need. This is how your card might get hacked at a local business.
5. Overlaid skimming device. The crooks attach a fake 'reader' on the real card reader so when you make a 'real' purchase they grab the card data at the same time. Sometimes they will also hook up a security camera so they can see what PIN number you enter. If you think the card reader looks odd, look carefully before you use your card.
6. Internal skimming device. This is a little harder because the thief needs to open up the ATM or vending machine and attach the skimming device inside. This is very hard to spot unless you open up the machine and banks and gas stations frown on you doing that.
7. Hijacked terminals. Now we start to get into the movie style scams. This requires actually hacking into the program and reprogramming the terminal to send the data to both the real processing company and to the bad guys.
8. Ghost ATMs and fake fronts. Yes you can get real ATMs and set them up in a public location. You will probably get an error code and just write it off to a technical glitch with the terminal, unfortunately they now have your data.
9. Buying the data. Believe it or not there are sites on the internet that will sell compromised credit card information. It's usually out of date but if you didn't notice that $500 bottle of champagne you bought in Bulgaria last month, you may still be vulnerable.
10. Data breaches. These are the credit card fraud you hear about. Millions of credit cards may be hacked at a time. It's very sophisticated (usually). These make for great news stories and great plots in movies but normally this only happens a couple of times a year.
Bonus: Electronic Remote readers. It is possible to set up a reader that will download the data on your card but they have to be close to you. This method is most likely to be used in a high traffic tourist area like Times Square or an airport. There are wallets and purses that provide rfid blocking that will keep you safe.
What can you do to minimize your risk? Be careful when giving your credit card and carefully check your monthly credit card statement. There are also several companies that offer credit card fraud protection. Bottom Line, keep an eye open.
research information from verafin