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How Thieves Make Fake Credit Cards

Thieves Utilize Gift Card Magstripe Writer
Tech-savvy thieves have found a new way to commit credit card fraud by altering the data stored in magnetic strips on valid gift and credit cards.

This new "magstripe scam" has likely not become very widespread, as altering a card's magentic strip data is very difficult. Special equipment is required to read and alter the strips and thieves must break a security code on the card itself and then defeat an automated system that watches for suspicious cards and activity.

Recently, a man was arrested at a mall restaurant in Edmonton, Canada. In his possession were thumb drives and computer printouts filled with credit card account data stolen from hundreds of U.S. and Canadian customers. Several prepaid gift cards issued by Visa and MasterCard as well as a device for embedding data on a magstripe were also found.

This follows the exposure of a Miami fraud ring in which six men used counterfeit credit cards to buy Wal-Mart gift cards. The men then used the cards to purchase $1 million in items at Sam's Club, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart.

New contact-less payment systems based on RFID tags are said to be more secure (check our post about e-passports for that one), but the standard magstripe will likely be in use for several more decades.

From USA Today

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