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Where Does Stolen Credit Card Data End Up?

The holiday season is one of the most prolific times of the year for hackers and data thieves. Here is what happens when your credit card info is stolen – and where your stolen credit card data ends up.

How Is Credit Card Data Stolen?

Most credit card data is stolen through two methods: hacking or skimming. Hacking occurs when a website containing sensitive information is compromised.  There have been plenty of hacking incidents, including the Capital One breach that impacted over 106 million customers. Skimming (or, more correctly, “e-skimming”) is like hacking but involves altering payment platforms’ code to capture customers’ credit card details.

Where Does Stolen Credit Card Information End Up?

So, once your credit card information is stolen, where does it end up? According to Greg Foss, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist at VMware Carbon Black, the answer is the dark web and popular marketplace forums.

Popular dark web marketplaces offer buyers stolen credit and personal information for around $10 per card. Cards with higher credit limits can fetch more, though the average is about $10 to $20. Prospective buyers can also purchase stolen PayPal credentials at a much lower price – averaging just $2 per account.

These dark web sites take a forum not unfamiliar to everyday consumers. According to Foss, these forums offer the stolen credit card data in a “shopping cart” format, with buyers selecting the accounts they want, then checking out.

Social Security Numbers Are Also In Danger

The extra worrying aspect of these stolen data dumps is that they often include information beyond credit cards – such as Social Security numbers. “While there are other services that specialize in the aggregation and resale of (such as Social Security number and date of birth) data, many carding forums also provide this information in conjunction with credit cards,” Foss said.

How Can You Protect Yourself Online?

Over 30 million credit card records were sold on the dark web in 2019, according to reports. What can you do to help keep yourself protected from potential fraud? There are various ways to safeguard your information when shopping online, such as using a virtual credit card.  Virtual credit cards are temporary credit card numbers that a user generates to make online purchases more secure. Since these cards are easily removed or canceled, they serve an excellent way to prevent information or financial loss due to an online merchant’s hacking.

Other ways to protect yourself online include:

  • Make sure you are on the correct website by verifying the address
  • Shop only on sites that feature HTTPS security
  • Change your passwords frequently
  • Monitor your credit reports

Related Article: Ten Ways to Stay Protected Against Credit Card Fraud

Featured photo by Nicole De Khors / Burst
About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.