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Stolen Credit Card Information is the Top Target of Cyber-Criminals

In a recent story by The Canadian Press, it was reported that credit card information is the biggest prize among cyber-criminals. Stolen credit card numbers generate billions of dollars for criminals lurking the Internet. It is the most sought after information online because of the ease in which unauthorized purchases can be made on the World Wide Web.

It really does make sense when you think about it doesn’t it? What could be more anonymous than an Internet purchase. There certainly isn’t any way to verify that the card belongs to the person using it, such as checking the signature on the card, or requiring a picture ID, like there is in a traditional transaction at a brick and mortar merchant.

The global black market for credit card theft has grown right along with the Internet itself. The opportunities for thieves to use stolen credit card information is enormous. And the price tag for the rest of us is huge. It is estimated that the average credit limit is $4000. If that credit limit were to be maxed out with unauthorized transactions the total could reach over $5 billion.

Credit card numbers fetch between 50 cents and $12 per number on the black market. Criminals buy and sell in bulk to ensure that they will have plenty of valid cards to make up for the cards that were reported as stolen and are no longer usable. Organized crime is a big participant in this illicit activity, but by no means the only player.

According to Symantic inc, credit card information is the most frequently targeted data by cyber-criminals, with bank information coming in second. Thieves are very savvy, and the more lucrative the booty is, the greater the attraction is for clever criminals with technological expertise. It’s like any legitimate field, talent gets rewarded.

To facilitate the buying and selling of stolen credit cards, the criminals run software programs on their computers that gives them access to forums where buyers and sellers meet. They can be just as easily put up as they are taken down when the heat comes from law enforcement bodies.

Phishing is also a huge problem. Phishing is when an email is sent out containing a bogus web site that is made to look exactly like that of a legitimate company. The whole idea is to trick the person who receives the email into giving up their financial information. It is very effective. Codes and viruses are also used to steal credit card information from unsuspecting individuals.

The bottom line – be careful how you use your credit card both online and off. Never give your financial information unless you originated the transaction. If you are not sure if a request is legitimate, contact your credit card company independent of the request in question. And be sure to continually check your credit card accounts to make sure there is no unauthorized activity, and If there is, report it immediately.

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