This one was new to me... We've all heard about high tech online and email scams that are used by criminals to trick consumers out of their money. But now, some scammers are relying on good old low-tech skills to steal money from consumers... sometimes without being detected for months!
Authorities are reporting increased "credit card shaving" activity. Credit card shaving--or resurfacing--occurs when a criminal essentially creates a duplicate credit card using numbers from other cards.
Here's how it works...
Criminals obtain valid credit card numbers (either by purchasing a list of numbers from a black market dealer or by stealing numbers from other sources, such as financial paperwork). Then, criminals use a razor blade to shave the raised numbers off of expired credit cards or gift cards. Once the numbers are off, criminals re-arrange those numbers into the order of a valid credit card number and glue them back onto a clean-shaven card. Finally, the criminals use a knife or a pen to scratch the magnetic strip on the back of the newly created card, so that store clerks have to enter the number manually rather than swipe the card.
It's all very low-tech, but very effective! Especially, when you consider that the victims have no idea they're even being robbed. And why should they? Their actual credit cards haven't been stolen... they're safe and sound in a wallet or purse.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
First, spread the word about this type of crime. That means telling your friends, family members, and even your local merchants. Experts agree that the best line of defense is at the store register. After all, these card numbers need to be entered manually by a store clerk. If the clerk is perceptive and takes a minute to inspect cards for evidence of mismatched and crooked numbers or even traces of glue, many of these types of crimes could be stopped before they begin.
Second, monitor your accounts. All too often, people file their credit card bills or check card statements without really inspecting them. To help protect yourself, make sure you take a few minutes to examine what charges are listed. If anything looks remotely suspicious, look into it. You can start by checking it against your recent purchases, and if anything looks suspect, get in touch with your credit card company and the merchant for help in tracking down the issue.