As credit card technology changes, thieves have kept up with new and interesting ways to commit fraud. Credit card processing has taken steps throughout the years to make theft harder, but merchant accounts are consistently targeted. While the methods have changed over time, credit card fraud continues to be a serious problem for consumers and merchants alike. Understanding various methods of theft can make scams less likely to work and keep it from being successful.
Decades ago, credit card processing was done on a sliding hand machine using carbon copies. The machine made a perfect impression of the front of the card, including all of the raised numbers and the expiration date. This allowed thieves to dive into dumpsters and rifle through the trash to gain card numbers, which they then used to make duplicates on home-made machines. This method of fraud became less frequent as card companies began to issue cards with photos, holograms and other security measures built in.
Card Information Theft
With the rise of pay-by-phone and internet ordering, thieves no longer had to make physical cards anymore. The thief could simply use the card number and expiration date to pay bills or order goods. The fraud wouldn’t be discovered until the owner of the card found discrepancies on their monthly statement and called their card issuer to file a dispute. This type of fraud continues today, even with the advent of security codes printed on the backs of credit cards.
Wide-Scale Card Information Theft
As computers became more and more common, retailers began to engage in electronic credit card processing. Some merchant accounts were so huge that a single security breech could expose the date of then of thousands of customers. Computer hackers began to exploit weaknesses in retailers’ computer systems and commit fraud on a massive scale. While most retailers now employ high-end security systems to protect consumer information, this type of fraud is still common today.
Credit card fraud has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, despite plenty of security protocols intent on stopping it. Some card issuers are now going so far as to place a photo of the customer on the card in an attempt to curtail theft, and retailers are using even-increasing levels of encryption to protect data records. As long as there remains a way for someone to profit from theft, credit card information theft will always be a lucrative crime.