12 Ways Scammers Steal Credit Card Information

Scammers Steal Credit Card Information and Cardholders are Victimized

In the digital age, the face of business – including illicit business – has changed dramatically. In bygone days, fraudsters would snatch purses and pilfer through trash to find carbon copies of credit cards on discarded receipts. While those tactics have not entirely disappeared, scam artists have become more skilled and adapted their craft to the digital age.

In this post, we will discuss 12 ways that scammers steal credit card information today.

1. ATM Skimmers

If you regularly use ATMS at low-security locations like grocery stores and gas stations, you could be putting yourself at risk.

ATM skimmers are devices that are nearly unnoticeable, especially to the average cardholder. ATM skimmers are devices planted on an actual ATM that record the magnetic strip information via a small attachment to the card reader. This attachment can either be a small plastic sleeve or an entire false ATM front.

Skimmers are typically also paired with small cameras to capture card PIN numbers. The information that scammers gather will either be used later or sold to another party for profit, often $20-40 per card number.

2. Malware in Point of Sale Machines

In October 2013, a malware named Chewbacca was discovered in a point of sale computer. Since then, the malware has been found in retail computers across the world.

This type of malware is a simple, hardly detectable program that records credit card payment information that is processed on an infected computer.

That information is then sent through an anonymous network to be used by thieves accessing the information on an anonymous central server. The creators of Chewbacca have yet to be identified.

3. Email Phishing

It is common practice to avoid opening email from people you do not know, although some savvy scammers will send emails posing as trusted authorities like American Express or Capital One.

Once a person logs into the fraudulent website via a link provided in the phishing email, the victim’s information is recorded and sold.

4. Restaurant Scam

Most of the waiters and waitresses that you meet are genuine people and do not intend to rip you off. However, there have been numerous cases of wait staff stealing credit card information or double-charging patrons.

The aforementioned ATM skimmer comes in a portable version, and a tech-savvy waiter or waitress could easily slide your card through the device to capture your information after they process your payment but before they return your card to you.

Another example is when one patron pays in cash–which the restaurant employee pockets. He or she will then use another patron’s card to close the tab that was paid in cash. Thus, the card-user is charged twice and the employee keeps the cash.

5. Skimmers at Point of Sale Terminals

Skimmers are ubiquitous in the world of scam artists. Another common placement for skimmers are on cash registers at retailers.

Typically, the scam artist will arrive with one or two accomplices who will create a distraction while the scammer outfits a temporarily unattended register with a skimmer.

The scam artist will return shortly thereafter to retrieve the device and all of the credit card information it has collected in the meantime.

6. Gas Station Skimmers

Yet another use for card skimmers is at gas station pumps. In this type of scam, the fraudster will attach a card skimmer to one or more of the pumps at a gas station during quiet hours when his or her activities will likely go undetected.

These types of skimmers can either store information or emit a Bluetooth signal. If the skimmer has a Bluetooth transmitter, the fraudster will remain in the area so that his or her laptop can retrieve data as it is collected.

7. Radio-Frequency Identification Theft

Another way that scam artists steal credit card information is by accessing radio-frequency identification information, or RFID, that is stored in your credit card.

All of the major credit card companies now use RFID chips, which enable card users to simply tap instead of swipe their cards to make a purchase. While this technology makes shopping easier, it makes identity theft easier as well.

With as little as $100 worth of equipment, thieves can steal credit card information through your purse or clothing simply by getting the extraction technology within 25 feet of your credit card.

8. Trojan Virus

In the early 2000s, Trojan viruses were (and in some places continue to be) a virulent threat.

Like other computer viruses, Trojan software is downloaded unintentionally by computer users visiting sites infected with the virus. Once on the site, the software automatically downloads and infects the entire computer.

The software then monitors the user’s activity and records any sensitive information such as bank account passwords and social security numbers. This information is then transferred to be used with malicious intent by the virus’s creator.

9. Application Fraud

This technique is becoming dated as more and more bank users switch to paperless banking, but application fraud is still alive and well.

Application fraud occurs when a scam artist goes through your mailbox to intercept credit card offers. Once a credit card offer is found, the scammer fills out the attached application in your name, using other information in your mailbox such as utility bills to verify your identity.

The scammer then has the credit card sent to his or her own address. The victim may not even know that this fraud has occurred until debt collectors begin calling.

10. Credit Repair Scams

Yet another scam that fraudsters use to steal credit card and other sensitive information is by setting up phony credit repair services. In credit repair scams, the fraudsters pose as agents willing to help you rapidly boost your bad credit score.

Many of these scams make wild promises and seem too good to be true, which they are. While some credit repair companies are legitimate, remember there is nothing that they can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. Plus, by using such a company, you make yourself vulnerable to fraudulent activity.

11. Tax Fraud

When tax season rolls around, identity theft spikes because people who usually would not hand confidential information over to a stranger are more willing to take this risk.

There are several versions of tax fraud. At best, they swindle you out of your tax refund. The worst case scenario result in all of your financial information being stolen.

Scam artists are known to pose as tax preparers, so only consult a reputable professional for this service.

12. Online Card Image Scam

Some savvy hackers recently made an alarming discovery. They can steal credit card information from images of credit cards with the numbers blurred out that are posted online.

These images are easy to come by, and hackers put the image through a number sequence to find the most likely matches. The matching numbers are then harvested for potential use later.

We Can Help

If your credit card information has been stolen or you’ve fallen for other forms of credit card scams, let us help. Fill out the form to the right. We’ll help you regain access to your money—and peace of mind.