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5 ways thieves steal credit card data

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The whodunit of stolen credit cards
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The whodunit of stolen credit cards | Tetra Images/Getty Images

The whodunit of stolen credit cards

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, deputy special agent in charge of the Secret Service's cyber operations branch of the criminal investigative division. "Technology has changed things."

CREDIT CARD SEARCH: Find the right credit card for your lifestyle.

The good news, if there is any: While the number of data breaches involving credit and debit card numbers grew in 2015 to 160 from 138 the year prior, the total number of records exposed fell dramatically to 800,000 from 64.4 million, according to The Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization.

In 2015, criminals hacked, phished or skimmed their way into the systems of Ashley Madison, the CVS Photo website, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, Landry's restaurants and Trump Hotel Properties, 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.

FREE TOOL: Check your credit report now at myBankrate.

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