Almost 100k Americans fell victims to credit card fraud in 2021 Q3
Credit card fraud has become one of the most popular ways for criminals to make a quick buck. Credit card identity theft is relatively easy to carry out, and it’s also significantly less risky than traditional types of crimes, which is why it’s the most common type of identity theft in the last quarter.
Data extracted and analyzed by Atlas VPN reveals that 97 thousand Americans were the victims of credit card fraud in Q3 2021. This type of identity theft most commonly victimized people ages 30-39.
The analysis is based on the complaints submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via their official website identitytheft.gov. Here, US citizens can report identity theft and get help by receiving a personal identity theft recovery plan.
The FTC received 263 thousand identity theft reports in the third quarter of 2021. More than a third of those - 37%, were identity theft complaints concerning credit card fraud.
The majority of the victims belong to the age group of 30-39. As many as 27 thousand victims were in this age group, representing 34% of the total.
The second most affected group was in the age brackets of 40-49 and 20-29, with 18 thousand and 17 thousand victims, respectively.
Interestingly, elders are by far the least affected group when it comes to credit card fraud. Only 1,608 people ages 70-79 reported credit card identity theft and only 429 victims were over 80 years old.
Laon or lease fraud is also among the top identity theft types, with nearly 50 thousand citizens submitting complaints to the FTC. Bank fraud is fourth on the list, with close to 39 thousand victims in Q3 2021.
Usually, victims of financially-related identity theft find out about the crime upon checking their financial statements online.
How is credit card fraud carried out?
Apart from being less risky than other crimes, credit card fraud is attractive to criminals because it is relatively easy to carry out. On top of that, profits are substantial and immediate due to the nature of the crime.
We will cover the steps the thief has to complete to carry out credit card fraud for educational purposes.
First, the criminal has to get the credit card details - the credit card number, PIN code, date of expiration, and the name of the holder.
The most common way to get these details is by purchasing them on the dark web.
Another way is the so-called credit card skimming method. The threat actor fits a small device on a real card reader to capture the credit card information.
The device is usually stealthy and an unsuspecting victim has no way of knowing it has been implanted into the ATM.
The next step is the making of the card itself. Creating the card can get costly. Printers that print on the plastic of the card can cost upwards of $10,000. This is why most scammers choose to go on the dark web and purchase an already printed card called a “dummy blank”.
Then, an embedder machine is used to embed the stolen credit card numbers and other information onto the card.
The next step requires a card reader, a device that can print the information onto the card's magnetic strip.
What about the chip systems used for protection purposes? Sadly, machines that replicate the security chips can also be purchased on the dark web.
And that is it. That is all a criminal has to do to get an exact credit card replica. Thieves can use it to withdraw money or purchase items in stores.
How can people protect themselves from credit card fraud?
Firstly, make sure to check your bank statements regularly. If you notice a purchase you did not authorize within 30-90 days, the bank will usually be able to reverse the transaction.
It is also helpful to browse the web to find how card skimmers look so you can identify one if you ever come across it.
Finally, have purchase and cash withdrawal limits on the card in case identity theft does happen.
Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.