Credit Card Cloning

Credit card cloning refers to making an unauthorized copy of a credit card. This practice is also sometimes called skimming. Thieves copy information at a credit card terminal using an electronic device and transfer the data from the stolen card to a new card or rewrite an existing card with the information. Unfortunately, cloning and related forms of theft have become increasingly widespread in recent decades. 

How Credit Card Cloning Works

Card cloning is a fairly elaborate scheme. More specifically:
An accomplice is recruited – someone with physical access to credit cards e.g. a cashier, restaurant server etc.
They are given a skimmer – a compact machine used to capture card details. This can be a separate machine or an add-on to the card reader. 
The customer hands their card to the accomplice, as payment.
The accomplice swipes the card through the skimmer, in addition to the POS machine used for normal payment.
The accomplice hands back the card to the unsuspecting customer.
The details captured are transferred by the skimmer to the magnetic strip in a counterfeit card, which could be a stolen card itself.
The counterfeit card can now be used in the way a legitimate card would, or for additional fraud such as gift carding and other carding.
There are, of course, variations on this. For example, some skimmers will be attacked to ATMs, or to handheld card readers. As long as their users swipe or enter their card as usual and the criminal can return to pick up their device, the result is the same: Swiping a credit or debit card through the skimmer machine captures all the information held in its magnetic strip. 
 
Additionally, shoulder-surf or social engineering techniques can be used to find out the card’s PIN, or even the owner’s billing address, so the stolen card details can be used in even more settings.
 
 

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