What Is a Credit Card Dump?

A credit card dump is a type of crime in which the criminal makes an unauthorized digital copy of a credit card. This type of crime has existed for decades, but it has seen wider public awareness in recent years due to the rising prevalence of credit card forgeries, identity theft, and other types of cybercrime.

Key Takeaways

  • A credit card dump is a type of crime in which credit card information is stolen from customers.
  • Thieves do so either by physically copying data from the card or by hacking the payments network of the companies in question.
  • In recent years, criminals have undertaken increasingly large scale credit card dump attacks, sometimes with millions of victims.

How Credit Card Dumps Work

There are many ways in which a credit card dump might occur. One common method is skimming, in which an illegal card reader, sometimes hidden in a legitimate automated teller machine (ATM) or gas station pump, copies the data from a credit card. In other cases, cybercriminals are able to obtain a large number of card numbers at once, by compromising the computer systems of companies handling customer credit card information. For example, criminals might access thousands of retail customers’ credit card by infecting the point-of-sale (POS) devices of a large retail chain. 

Although measures such as personal information numbers (PINs) and security chips can help make this theft more difficult, hackers nonetheless continue to find new ways to exploit weaknesses in the electronic payments system in order to capture valuable credit card information. To profit from this theft, cybercriminals resell the credit card information on the black market. In the United States, this type of stolen information can reportedly be sold for anywhere between $20 and $80 per card. Alternatively, hackers could also use the information themselves in order to make unauthorized online purchases using stolen credit cards.

Ultimately, consumers have limited means to protect themselves against the risk of cybercrime. After all, even the most cautious individuals might fall victim to credit card theft if hackers manage to compromise the systems of the companies where they shop. Nevertheless, there are steps individuals can take to reduce some of their risks. These include refraining from sharing their credit card information with others, keeping their credit cards close at hand when in public places, checking for any suspicious objects on or around ATMs, gas pumps, and POS machines; and regularly reviewing their credit card statements for any unfamiliar transactions.

Example of a Credit Card Dump

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of examples in which hackers managed to compromise vast amounts of credit card data from unsuspecting customers. In May 2019, for example, the popular Australian graphic design website, Canva, was breached by hackers, with nearly 140 million user accounts compromised. In addition to personal information such as names, usernames, and email addresses, the hackers also managed to access users’ credit card information.

Another notable incident occurred in October 2013, when Adobe (ADBE) lost nearly 3 million customer credit card records in a large scale attack by hackers. The breach was part of a larger effort in which data from over 150 million users was also stolen. The company ultimately reached a roughly $1 million settlement with its customers over the incident.