DEFINITION of Credit Card Dump

A credit card dump is an unauthorized digital copy of all the information contained in the magnetic strip of an active credit card, created with the intention of illegally making a fake credit card that can be used by cybercriminals to make purchases. Credit card dumps are used by fraudsters to capture valuable card data such as the card number and expiration date. "Credit card dump" is yet another term originally used underground that has found its way into general public awareness because of the increasing prevalence of credit card forgeries, identity theft, and other types of cybercrime.

BREAKING DOWN Credit Card Dump

Credit card dumps can be obtained in a number of ways. A popular method used by criminals is "skimming," in which an illegal card reader is used to copy the data from a credit card. Other methods include hacking into a retailer's network or when a malware-infected point-of-sale device is unwittingly used by the retailer, sending the information to the criminals. Even with security chips and other measures to protect credit and debit cards, hackers continue to explore new ways to exploit any weaknesses they can find in electronic financial transactions.

Why Credit Card Dumps Remain Hidden

In many cases, a consumer may be unaware that a dump of his or her credit card data has taken place. Cybercriminals try their utmost to ensure that credit card dumps go undetected for as long as possible, since cardholders can simply cancel their cards if they suspect that the card's security has been compromised by identity thieves. In fact, the first indication that a data dump has taken place often occurs either when the consumer finds an unauthorized purchase on his or her credit card, or when the consumer receives notice from a retailer that credit card details may have been stolen due to a hacking attack.

A credit card dump that contains data for a U.S. card can reportedly be sold in the underground economy for an amount ranging from $20 to as much as $80. The value of this information is an inducement for hackers to try and break into the networks of established retailers, driving up demand for stronger cybersecurity. Once they have succeeded in doing so, it may be possible for them to obtain dumps for thousands of credit cards. The spate of hacking attacks in recent years on a number of large, high-profile retailers is an indication that this problem is here to stay.