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5 ways thieves steal credit card data

Credit Cards » 5 Ways Thieves Steal Credit Card Data

The whodunit of stolen credit cards
The whodunit of stolen credit cards

Gone are the days of the good old-fashioned purse snatcher. With little brute and more skill, thieves only need a minute, sometimes a second, to pilfer your credit card data.

"Back in the beginning, they got the imprint of credit cards from the carbon copies they dug out of the trash," says William Noonan, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service's criminal investigative division. "Technology has changed things."

The number of compromised records has been on the decline the last two years, according to the Secret Service, after reaching a record high of 361 million records in 2008. The trend might reverse this year, however, after a recent string of mishaps.

This spring criminals hacked, phished or skimmed their way into the systems of Michaels Stores, Sony, marketing firm Epsilon, Citibank and even security expert RSA, among others. In some cases, they only obtained names and emails. In the worst cases, they got credit card numbers.

The schemes are simpler than you think. Bankrate presents the most common ways thieves pilfer your credit card information.

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