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International cyber card war?

By Janna Herron ·
Monday, January 9, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

The worldwide headlines read like an international spy novel with credit cards as the currency of destruction.

First strike: A Saudi Arabian hacker rumored to live in Mexico exposes at least 6,000 legit credit card accounts online belonging to Israeli citizens.

Second strike: Israeli hackers allegedly are ready to leak the details on thousands of credit cards used on Saudi shopping sites if the first hacker doesn't quit posting his data.

What's the next move? Who knows, but the saga does underscore that the threat of credit card fraud can come from any corner of the globe.

"There's a very international spin to it," William Noonan, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service's criminal investigative division, told me last year during an interview about credit card fraud. "It's a transnational crime."

That definitely explains why banks are more likely to put a stop to an unusual foreign transaction, putting an embarrassing kink in your European getaway.

Foreign transactions are 10 times more likely to be fraudulent than domestic ones, Mike Urban, FICO's fraud chief said in a previous interview. "A lot of hacking comes from Eastern Europe or Asia."

It's not just foreign hackers. Many international crime rings buy credit card data from thieves who skim the cards here in the U.S.

Remember the Mugs 'N Jugs waitress in Florida or the waiters of some of the Big Apple's poshest restaurants? All of these skimmers could have auctioned off the hundreds or thousands of credit cards' account info they swiped (for about $3.50 a pop) to criminals who reproduce cards to be used overseas. It's quite the racket.

Still, there is good news. Your liability for unauthorized purchases on a lost or stolen credit card is $50 under federal law. Second, there are quick ways to protect yourself. Monitor your accounts online, set up automatic alerts for suspicious activity, and contact local authorities and your bank at the first sign of trouble.

And if you want to make your Parisian vacation easier, let your issuer know if you plan to travel overseas to avoid uncomfortable denials.

Have you ever been a victim of international credit card fraud?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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Chandler Weyant
February 21, 2012 at 3:52 am

Very neat blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

January 10, 2012 at 9:39 am

About 6 years ago, someone in Central America attempted to put a charge on my account. Appropriately, Capital One denied it and contacted me immediately via phone and email.