6 Ways ID Thieves Steal Your Credit Card Number

Places you're most likely to be targeted.


One in every 10 American consumers has already been victimized by identity theft. Just earlier this year, a major online portal lost more than 12,000 credit card account numbers. Unfortunately, identity scammers are constantly coming up with novel ways to steal our credit card numbers.

Here are 6 places they are most likely to target:

Restaurants/supermarkets. While servers and cashiers can steal your credit card info quickly using pocket-sized skimmers, oftentimes hackers can break into a restaurant or supermarket’s computer system to access customer’s credit card info. The best way to avoid getting your credit card info swiped at a restaurant or supermarket is to pay with cash.

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Online. Using your credit card online can be dangerous if you are using a website that isn’t secure. Unsecured sites make it easy for thieves to break into the server and access customer’s credit card numbers. To safeguard your credit card info online, make sure you use secure websites to make payments. Look for sites with verified secured connections and updated SSL certificates (i.e. the lock icon on the payment page). Also, be wary of sending information related to your credit card or personal data via email.

ATM. You may think the ATM you are using is secure, but you might want to double-check. Thieves can put “skimmers” in ATMs that can read and capture the information on the magnetic strip on your card. They can also put hidden cameras on ATMs so they can see your pin number. Then, they can make fake cards and gain access to your accounts. To avoid getting your credit (or debit) card info stolen at an ATM, steer clear of ATMs that look suspicious or look like they may have been tampered with.

Mail. It is very easy for credit card thieves to steal your mail to get your credit card info. If you put your bills out the night before the mailman comes to pick them up, thieves can easily swipe your outgoing mail before the mailman stops at your mailbox. To avoid having your credit card information stolen in the mail, opt to go paperless and pay your bills online. Or, if you insist on paying your bills via mail, hand your bills to your mailman directly so that thieves don’t have a chance to ransack your mailbox.

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Traveling. Thieves love travelers. Whether it’s quickly snatching your wallet on a crowded train or breaking into your hotel room, it can be easy for thieves to get their hands on your credit cards. The best way to protect yourself is to carry prepaid travel credit cards to limit your liability.

Credit card machines at retail stores. Similar to getting your card information snatched by ATM skimmers, it is possible for thieves to pull a fast one on employees at stores and switch out store-owned credit card terminals for a card reader of their own. They can then collect credit card data from store customers. The best way to make sure this type of theft doesn’t happen to you is to opt to pay with cash.

Ashley Jacobs is a finance writer for Wise Bread—a consumer resource dedicated to helping people find the best finance blogsand the best credit card tips.