A coworker of mine, Tom Cross, was featured on CBS Atlanta regarding a case where a newscast member had her credit card information stolen. An interesting aspect of this situation is the criminals obtained the card number while the victim was in another city holding the authentic card. It is undetermined how the criminals stole the card number to create the duplicate but the motive clear … purchase giftcards until the credit card account becomes locked.
Tom Cross references a few methods these criminals could have used to steal the credit card number. One possibility is using a Skimmer. There are many forms of skimming such as obtaining a copy of a credit card receipt or other means to view a credit transaction. A Skimmer is a electronic device that captures and stores victim’s card numbers. There are many variations such as a thin sheet placed into a card reader or more advanced versions such as a replica of a actual reader as shown below.
Skimmer and real credit card reader slot
Another possible method the criminals could have obtained the credit card number was hacking a database that stored the card number post transaction. Any organization that handles financial transactions is mandated by law to meet Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI DSS security standards. There are heavy fines when an organization fails a PCI audit for good reason. We as a consumer depend on the vendor’s security standards to protect our sensitive data. I have personally used my credit card and noticed the customer receipt has my entire card number printed rather than the last four digits (IE it suppose to be XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1234). This is a violation of PCI and makes my credit card information vulnerable to crime.
There are other methods that could have been used as well. Stolen credit card numbers is a popular business in underground markets. NPR.org posted a great article on how this business operates HERE. In a nutshell, criminals sell stolen card numbers on ebay like online markets in bulk. Once you are in, you can buy a few numbers, use a card printer such as a MSR-206 to print your cards and go shopping on somebody else’s credit.
Check out the CBS story HERE or at the link below. Very interesting stuff.