It seems not a day goes by that I don't hear of some new method of identity theft or credit card fraud to guard against. And yesterday was no exception.
I spotted an article about a group of Huntington bank customers whose debit card information had been used to buy several air conditioners at Overstock.com. Huntington was quick to deny fault in the matter, deferring the blame to, "some link on the Internet." Thankfully Overstock.com quickly reimbursed the fraudulent transactions and shed some light on how the theft may have occurred.
Alan Johnson, who heads up the fraud department at Overstock, told our local paper that the numbers were likely compromised by "card tumbling," a method of fraud that seems fit for an upcoming episode of Numb3rs. Since I can't call in Charlie Eppes to explain card tumbling, I'll do my best to break it down for you.
Much in the same way that a locksmith focuses on how a lock works in order to pick it, card tumblers focus on the rules and math that govern how credit card numbers are created in order to get to your money. Once they create a credit card number, they test it for validity and if successful it's used on sites that don't verify other information such as the name or security code on the credit card.
Perhaps what is most frightening about this method of theft is that you don't have to use your card online or have the number stolen to lose out. Even though the normal methods of safeguarding your credit and debit card numbers won't protect you from this method of hacking, there is one step you can take to keep your funds safe. To avoid the realization that someone in Nigeria has emptied your entire account, you can have your debit card attached to a secondary account in which you only keep money you are going to spend in the near future.
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