Protecting Your Finances: How to Guard Against Credit Card Dump Scams


Credit card dumps involve the unauthorized copying of credit card information, leading to potential misuse. This article explores how credit card dumps work, notable examples, and tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Credit card dump definition

A credit card dump is a form of cybercrime where criminals illicitly create unauthorized digital copies of credit cards. This type of criminal activity has existed for decades but has gained widespread attention due to the increasing prevalence of credit card forgeries, identity theft, and other cybercrimes.

How credit card dumps work

Credit card dumps can occur through various methods. One common approach is known as skimming, where an illegal card reader, often hidden within legitimate automated teller machines (ATMs) or gas station pumps, captures the data from a credit card’s magnetic stripe. Alternatively, cybercriminals can obtain a large volume of card numbers by compromising the computer systems of companies handling customer credit card information. For example, they might gain access to thousands of credit card numbers by infecting the point-of-sale (POS) devices used by a major retail chain.

Despite measures like Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and security chips, hackers continually find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in the electronic payment system to access valuable credit card data. Cybercriminals can profit from this stolen information by selling it on the black market or using it themselves to make unauthorized online purchases.

Protecting against credit card dumps

While consumers have limited means to protect themselves from cybercrimes like credit card dumps, there are steps to reduce risks:

  • Never share credit card information with others.
  • Keep credit cards secure in public places.
  • Regularly inspect ATMs, gas pumps, and POS machines for suspicious devices.
  • Monitor credit card statements for unfamiliar transactions.

Examples of credit card dumps

Several high-profile cases highlight the seriousness of credit card dumps:

1. Capital One breach (2019): In July 2019, Capital One, one of the largest credit card issuers in the U.S., disclosed a data breach affecting approximately 106 million customers and applicants in the U.S. and Canada. The breach included sensitive information such as names, social security numbers, income details, and dates of birth, spanning from 2005 to early 2019.

2. Canva data breach (2019): In May 2019, hackers breached Canva, a popular Australian graphic design website, compromising nearly 140 million user accounts. Apart from personal information, the hackers also accessed users’ credit card data.

3. Adobe hack (2013): In October 2013, Adobe lost nearly 3 million customer credit card records in a large-scale attack. This breach was part of a wider effort in which data from over 150 million users was stolen. Adobe reached a settlement of approximately $1 million with affected customers.

Biggest credit card dump to date

The largest credit card dump in terms of the number of customers affected was the Equifax hack in September 2017. This breach exposed personal data from more than 147 million customers, including credit card details.

History of credit card dumps

Credit card theft, scams, and black markets for personal information have been around since the introduction of credit cards in the 1960s and ’70s. The first significant credit card dump is often attributed to 1984 when the New York Times reported that the password for a major credit union, TRW, was stolen from a Sears store on the West Coast. This password allowed access to the credit histories and personal information of many Sears customers, leading to the theft of their credit card numbers.

Protecting yourself from credit card dumps

Unfortunately, when credit card dumps result from security breaches at companies you frequent, your card numbers may be at risk. If you’re aware of a breach, contact your credit card issuer immediately to freeze your account and request card replacements.

Another innovative solution is the use of virtual credit card numbers. Many banks and card companies offer the option to generate temporary credit card numbers for online shopping. These numbers cannot be used for subsequent purchases, enhancing security.

Methods of credit card dumping

Understanding the various methods employed by cybercriminals to carry out credit card dumps can help you stay vigilant:

  • Mail theft
  • ATM skimming
  • Phishing emails

These methods involve physical and digital techniques that thieves use to capture credit card information.

Mail theft

While much attention is given to digital theft, credit card dumps can still occur through traditional means. Criminals may steal credit card statements and offers directly from your mailbox. They can then use this information to make unauthorized purchases.

ATM skimming

ATM skimming involves attaching a small device to an ATM’s card reader that can capture your card’s information when you use the machine. Criminals often disguise these devices as part of the ATM, making them difficult to detect.

Once they have captured the data, they can create counterfeit cards or sell the information on the black market.

Phishing emails

Criminals often use phishing emails to trick individuals into revealing their credit card information. These emails may impersonate legitimate organizations or financial institutions and ask recipients to click on a link and enter their card details.

It’s essential to remain cautious when dealing with unsolicited emails and verify the legitimacy of any requests for sensitive information.

Notable recent credit card dumps

Here are a few additional examples of significant credit card dumps:

4. Marriott International (2020): In March 2020, Marriott International suffered a data breach that exposed the personal information of over 5.2 million guests. The breach involved a login credential belonging to two employees at a franchise property.

5. EasyJet (2020): In May 2020, the airline EasyJet disclosed that a data breach had exposed the personal and travel information of approximately nine million customers. While credit card details were not part of the breach, the incident highlighted the vulnerabilities in handling customer data.

Securing your credit card information

While the risk of credit card dumps can be concerning, there are steps you can take to enhance the security of your credit card information:

  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for online accounts.
  • Regularly update your passwords and use strong, unique ones for each account.
  • Monitor your credit reports for any suspicious activity.

By staying vigilant and practicing good cybersecurity habits, you can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to credit card dumps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a credit card dump?

A credit card dump involves the unauthorized copying of credit card information, which can be used for fraudulent activities or sold on the black market.

How do credit card dumps work?

Credit card dumps can occur through various methods, including skimming, hacking, and phishing. Skimming involves capturing card data at physical terminals, while hacking targets digital systems to obtain card information.

What are the risks of credit card dumps for consumers?

Consumers risk financial losses and potential damage to their credit scores if their card information is dumped and misused. It can lead to unauthorized transactions and identity theft.

Are there measures to protect against credit card dumps?

While complete protection is challenging, consumers can reduce risks by safeguarding their physical cards, using strong passwords, monitoring statements, and enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for online accounts.

What are some notable examples of credit card dumps?

Notable examples include the Capital One breach (2019), Canva data breach (2019), and the Equifax hack (2017), which exposed millions of individuals to credit card information theft.

What is the history of credit card dumps?

Credit card dumps have been a concern since the 1960s and ’70s, with the first significant dump attributed to 1984. Criminals have continuously evolved their methods as technology advanced.

How can virtual credit card numbers help prevent credit card dumps?

Virtual credit card numbers provide an extra layer of security for online transactions. These temporary numbers cannot be reused, reducing the risk of theft and dumps.

What should I do if I suspect my credit card information has been dumped?

If you suspect a security breach or credit card dump, contact your card issuer immediately to freeze your account, investigate the issue, and request card replacements.

Key takeaways

  • Credit card dumps involve unauthorized copying of credit card information, leading to potential misuse.
  • Protect yourself by being cautious, monitoring statements, and using virtual credit card numbers for online transactions.
  • High-profile breaches like the Capital One and Adobe hacks highlight the significance of credit card dumps.
  • The Equifax breach in 2017 was the largest credit card dump in terms of the number of customers affected.
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