May 2, 2012

Credit Card Theft and How Thieves Are Getting Away with It

We live in the age of technology. With new innovations sweeping the consumer markets each year, sometimes the technology is more advanced than the security. In an attempt to make shopping, bill pay, and e-commerce easier in order to attract more customers, technology is used to for convenience. However with convenience come security risks. In the past credit card thieves needed to pick your pocket or get their hands on the ribbons from the credit card machines. Now with technology and convenience, thieves don’t even have to touch your card or even be in the same country.


Recent Methods of Theft:

For the past couple of years, the fear of hands-free credit card theft has been sweeping the masses. New credit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, contain a Radio Frequency Identification chip, or RFID. This allows consumers to wave their cards across the credit card machine rather than swiping or handing it to the cashier. It was a way for consumers to pay quicker and hopefully buy more. However, this technology allowed thieves to quickly develop a way to steal your credit card and personal information right out of your back pocket.


News stories across the globe showed how easy it is for thieves to wave their hands over a person’s pocket or purse and instantly steal their credit card information. Not only is the credit card number, expiration date, and customers name stolen, but their address and other personal information as well. By using RFID scanners hidden in their bags, thieves just need to be near you in order to steal your credit card information.


Even with this information wide spread and public, credit card companies have not recalled this card, which means you may be carrying a card that is ripe for stealing. The suggestion to stop the thieves is to purchase special sleeves made specifically to block the RFID signal, or leave the card at home.


A more recent method of stealing credit card information had gamers afraid for their financial safety.  In May of this year, The Sony PlayStation 3’s PSN network was hacked, giving thieves access to millions of credit card and personal information. With 77 million users on the gaming network, the breach offered access to an extremely high amount of personal data. The breach also took the network offline as Sony worked diligently to secure the network and bring it back online.


In an underground forum, hackers who claimed responsibility for Sony’s breach claimed to have stolen 2.2 million member’s credit card numbers and personal information. Shortly after the breach another server on Sony’s network was breached giving access to another 12,700 credit card accounts. This was a network that was expected to be secure and very few users gave any thought to storing their information on the servers.


How the Thieves Profit:

When you think of credit card theft you imagine the thieves sitting in a house surrounded by electronic s and goods bought with your credit card. Though the end result may be similar, the way these thieves profit from you is in the sale of your information.


According to security professionals, the sale of credit cards and stolen information happens completely underground in forums where hackers post and sell information. These posts list the type of information available for sale and the prices. The current rate for credit card information range from $5 to $10, sometimes more depending on how much information is available.

These forums have their own economy, which can also be affected by large hacks such as the Sony hack. If the 2.2 million credit card numbers flood the underground market, the price of information can drop to as low as $1-$2 per number. This is something hackers and account holders both dread. Knowing for $1 someone can ruin your credit and your identity, protecting yourself is even more imperative.


There are times when technology surpasses security. With the newest innovations targeting convenience, data transfer and paperless living, your information is at risk. Until companies realize the risk involved with storing credit and personal information and just stop all together, there will always be a thief discovering a new way to get it. Exercise caution and protect yourself and your information.

Author Gina Patterson is a content contributor for Granite Card, a place to obtain a Credit card to build credit history for those who may have had their credit damaged due to unforeseen circumstances.

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