For those of you who think of credit card theft as a high-tech crime performed online by e-savvy thieves, credit card shaving may sound SO 20th century. But it works -- depending, as usual, on the inattentiveness of store clerks.

Credit card shaving depends on glue and razor blades as much as stealth and the Internet. First, the shaver either finds an valid credit card number by entering various number combinations in an online store until one clicks, or buys lists of valid card numbers from the black market. The crook then carefully shaves embossed numbers from the surface of gift cards, as well from a defunct Visa, MasterCard or the like credit card. He then glues the number of the valid card onto the credit card blank, effectively creating for himself a duplicate of the valid credit card.

Then, the shaver need only scratch the mag strip so that the clerk will be required to enter the number manually, and he's ready to go shopping.

You are probably thinking, "Wouldn't you be able to tell that the card had been altered?" The answer is, yes, you probably could, but the clerk who has a line of impatient customers glaring at him and faces no penalty for accepting the card has little incentive to act as a fraud detector.

This is yet another argument for signing up for online access to your credit card account, so that you can check expenditures more frequently than once a month. The whole world has access to glue and razor blades.

Watching Your Plastic

    Kira Limer pays cash for a book at Barnes & Noble, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 in New York. The idea of cutting out credit cards is gaining more exposure at a time when Americans hold more than $850 billion in credit card debt, four times as much as in 1990. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    AP

    Kira Limer pays cash for a book at Barnes & Noble, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 in New York. The idea of cutting out credit cards is gaining more exposure at a time when Americans hold more than $850 billion in credit card debt, four times as much as in 1990. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    AP

    In this image released by the Brown County Sheriff's Office, Wendy Brown is shown in a booking mug after her arrest on Sept. 4, 2008, in Green Bay, Wis. Brown, 33, is charged with felony identity theft after enrolling in Ashwaubenon High School as her daughter, who lives in Nevada with Brown's mother. (AP Photo/ Brown County Sheriff's Office)

    AP

    Defense attorneys Ann Marie Fitz, left, and Ryan Beasley, speak to reporters outside the Clement F. Haynsworth Federal Building and U.S. Court House after Esther Reed pleaded guilty to identity theft in Greenville, S.C., Tuesday, August 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Patrick Collard)

    AP

    United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins speaks to reporters outside the Clement F. Haynsworth Federal Building and U.S. Court House after Esther Reed pleaded guilty to identity theft in Greenville, S.C., Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Reed pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing the identity of a missing South Carolina woman to attend an Ivy League school in what her lawyer called a bid to escape a painful past. (AP Photo/Patrick Collard)

    AP

    This handout photo courtesy of the Boston Police Department shows suspect Clark Rockefeller. FBI agents on August 2, 2008 arrested a man accused of abducting his seven-year-old daughter, who was visiting from London, sparking a national manhunt and fevered speculation over the flamboyant fugitive's identity.The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston, where Clark Rockefeller allegedly abducted his daughter Reigh Storrow Boss from his ex-wife a week ago, said the fugitive was arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, and the girl freed. Rockefeller is now likely to face charges including kidnapping, assault, and possibly identity theft. However, police are no closer to resolving who the man they have in custody really is. He has reportedly used a number of aliases, including J.P. Clark Rockefeller, Clark Mill Rockefeller, as well as plain Michael Brown. Police at first thought he was about to flee to Bermuda or Peru on a yacht docked in Long Island, near New York. Some reports had him already in the Caribbean. AFP PHOTO/BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT/HANDOUT=RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE =GETTY OUT= (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

    AFP/Getty Images

    LA CANADA, CA - AUGUST 05: Customers shop at a TJ Maxx store on August 5, 2008 in La Canada, California. The Justice Department has charged 11 people with stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at TJX Companies, which owns the Marshall's and TJ Maxx chains, and other major retailers by hacking into their computers. The information was then allegedly sold to people who used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars at a time from accounts through automated teller machines in the US and Europe. It is one of the biggest identity-theft cases on record. Charges against the suspects, who are from the US, China, Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia, include computer fraud, wire fraud, access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. The suspects also accused of hacking into the computers of Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, Sports Authority, OfficeMax, Boston Market, DSW Inc., and BJ's Wholesale Club to steal information. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    LA CANADA, CA - AUGUST 05: Customers shop at a TJ Maxx store on August 5, 2008 in La Canada, California. The Justice Department has charged 11 people with stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at TJX Companies, which owns the Marshall's and TJ Maxx chains, and other major retailers by hacking into their computers. The information was then allegedly sold to people who used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars at a time from accounts through automated teller machines in the US and Europe. It is one of the biggest identity-theft cases on record. Charges against the suspects, who are from the US, China, Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia, include computer fraud, wire fraud, access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. The suspects also accused of hacking into the computers of Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, Sports Authority, OfficeMax, Boston Market, DSW Inc., and BJ's Wholesale Club to steal information. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    LA CANADA, CA - AUGUST 05: Customers shop at a TJ Maxx store on August 5, 2008 in La Canada, California. The Justice Department has charged 11 people with stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at TJX Companies, which owns the Marshall's and TJ Maxx chains, and other major retailers by hacking into their computers. The information was then allegedly sold to people who used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars at a time from accounts through automated teller machines in the US and Europe. It is one of the biggest identity-theft cases on record. Charges against the suspects, who are from the US, China, Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia, include computer fraud, wire fraud, access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. The suspects also accused of hacking into the computers of Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, Sports Authority, OfficeMax, Boston Market, DSW Inc., and BJ's Wholesale Club to steal information. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    Getty Images

    LA CANADA, CA - AUGUST 05: Customers shop at a TJ Maxx store on August 5, 2008 in La Canada, California. The Justice Department has charged 11 people with stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers of customers shopping at TJX Companies, which owns the Marshall's and TJ Maxx chains, and other major retailers by hacking into their computers. The information was then allegedly sold to people who used it to steal tens of thousands of dollars at a time from accounts through automated teller machines in the US and Europe. It is one of the biggest identity-theft cases on record. Charges against the suspects, who are from the US, China, Ukraine, Belarus, and Estonia, include computer fraud, wire fraud, access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. The suspects also accused of hacking into the computers of Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, Sports Authority, OfficeMax, Boston Market, DSW Inc., and BJ's Wholesale Club to steal information. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    Getty Images


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