When Your Credit Card is Stolen

January 23, 2014, Written By Lynn Oldshue
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What happens to your credit card once it is stolen?

If it is someone physically stealing your wallet or purse, the thief may take your card down the street and immediately go on a shopping spree before you even know it has gone missing.

But what about credit card numbers that are part of a major hack such as what we have seen with Target or Neiman Marcus? Thieves who are involved in large-scale hacks often undertake the same steps in order to make a quick dollar off the stolen merchandise.

Typically, they will put the numbers up for sale on a card forum, otherwise known as a card mall. The sellers make their money based on the value of your card number. “Bad” credit card numbers may sell for just a few cents, but good ones, like those stolen from Target, may each sell for over $100.

The buyers on these forums are usually another group of thieves. They are the ones that actually use your card information to make purchases.

Once these numbers have been purchased, the thief will print a new card with the same information. The equipment needed to print a counterfeit card is not expensive. Dave Lott of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta told NBC News that criminals can buy equipment that print cards for about $100.

That person will then use the replica card to buy items that can easily be sold online. Smartphones and luxury items are usually the best options because they sell fast on the Internet.



The information contained within this article was accurate as of January 23, 2014. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.