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5 ways thieves steal credit card data

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Suspects: Harry the Hacker, Phishing Phil
Suspects: Harry the Hacker and Phishing Phil © Tammy54/Shutterstock.com

Suspects: Harry the Hacker, Phishing Phil

Modus operandi: Harry the Hacker installs malware -- a type of software that damages or infiltrates a computer or network -- on to a legitimate website with low security. The malware instantly downloads on to your computer when you visit the site and allows Harry to access your information. In another scenario, Harry puts malware on public computers and gathers the information you share with that computer, says Urban. Harry also infiltrates the computer system of banks, retailers and other businesses, and extracts personal account information, Noonan says.

Phishing Phil uses malware to go after your laptop or tablet. He sends emails with attachments that promise dancing kittens or some other bait. When the user opens the attachment, malware instantly downloads on to the computer and leaves confidential information vulnerable. Phil also sends emails from a familiar sender with a link to a contaminated website that installs malware on to your computer. Some malware, called spyware, allows Phil to capture every keystroke -- including passwords to your financial accounts.

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