5 Ways You Can Have Your Credit Card Number Stolen | CreditShout

5 Ways You Can Have Your Credit Card Number Stolen

By Dawn Allcot / May 25, 2010
5 Ways You Can Have Your Credit Card Number Stolen


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It seems that credit card thieves are always coming up with new and creative way to steal your credit card number.

“Always pay cash at the gas pump!” These were the warnings people heard this spring, when credit card-skimming devices inside gas pumps caused a wave of identity thefts and stolen credit card numbers.

How did it work?

When you scanned your credit card for pay-at-the-pump convenience, a carefully-hidden scanner would read your card, take a picture of it, and then transmit the stolen information, usually via Bluetooth, to the identity thieves, who would then go on a shopping spree with your card.

Patrons wouldn’t realize it until they received their credit card statement in the mail. If they were luckily, they had fraud protection on their credit card, and got a phone call about “suspicious activity” from their creditor.

The scam hurt gas sales and created a sense of paranoia which turned out to be justified.

Reports say 180 Utah gas stations from Provo to Salt Lake City were discovered with the card-skimming devices.

But that’s not the only way you can have your credit card number stolen. And some aren’t half as high-tech as card-skimming devices inside ATMs, gas pumps, and even credit card readers.

5 Ways You Can Have Your Credit Card Number Stolen

Theft #1: Stolen purse/wallet

Lost and stolen wallets and purses may no longer be the largest source of stolen credit card numbers thanks to massive hacks and breaches. But they still rank way up there.

How to Protect Yourself:

Keep the 800 numbers to cancel your credit cards in a separate, safe location. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, call and cancel the cards immediately.

By law, you are not liable for any fraudulent charges over $50. But if you don’t call to cancel the card, credit card companies can claim you authorized the purchases.

Theft #2: Copied Credit Card Numbers

Sneaky thieves can steal your credit card number (and the all-important three-digit CVV security code off the back, required for most internet purchases) by hand.

How to Protect Yourself:

Never let your credit card out of your sight. Pay cash at restaurants rather than giving your card to a waiter. Surprisingly, a large percentage of credit card fraud happens at work; never leave your credit cards out on your desk, and always keep your purse or wallet locked in a drawer or in the trunk of your car.

Theft #3: Website Hacked

Today’s security for online shopping is better than ever, but sites can still be hacked.

Unfortunately, there’s an even scarier form of identity theft taking place online today. Hackers call it “social engineering.”

Scammers will contact someone via Instant Messenger and pretend to be a friend or relative, signed on with a “friend’s ID.” They will make up a story about being trapped overseas with no money, and request your credit card information to purchase airline tickets.

Of course, they can’t be reached by their normal phone number — they can only chat online.

How to Protect Yourself:

Only purchase from secure sites (look for https: in green on your browser).

Better yet, use the “virtual credit card number” many companies offer for online purchases. Additionally, never give your credit card information to anyone over email or instant messenger.

Theft # 4: Over the Phone

Another form of “social engineering,” scammers will call to “verify your credit card information.”

You’re not safe when you initiate a credit card order by phone, either. Phone operators can steal your credit card information just by writing it down, and then use it to make online purchases.

How to Protect Yourself:

Always know who you are purchasing from when you place a phone order, and that the company is reputable. It’s actually safer to shop online with a virtual account number than over the phone.

Theft #5: Garbage

Thieves can steal your credit card number — and other personal information — out of the garbage.

How to Protect Yourself:

Shred or burn all documents with your account number, including bank statements and those old-school receipts that take an imprint of your credit card number.

While your credit card account number is valuable, the CCV number (that three- or four-digit number on the back of your credit card) is like gold; it’s required for online purchases. Keep that guarded closely.

How to Cope With a Stolen Card

Maybe you are reading this post after your credit card number was stolen. In that case, we want you to armed to prevent future thefts. We want you to be able to stop the credit card thieves in there place.

So, if you need to cope with a stolen card, check out our article on the Best Ways to Deal with a Stolen Credit Card.

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. Additionally, the opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site


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