Asking this question could be totally innocent. You could be new to the concept of credit cards and want a second one so you and your partner can use the same credit card account. However, that’s not how credit cards work, and the actual act of duplicating a credit card is a form of fraud, and it is illegal.
If you are unaware of the crime of duplicating a credit card, you could naively think it would be the innocent act of creating a second version, so you can share it with another person. However, this is why you need to be educated on financial security and credit cards.
The duplication of credit cards is illegal, and it is actually a form of identity theft. Let’s look into this more, so you can understand this better.
What Is Credit Card Cloning?
Credit card duplication or cloning is in reference to the creation of an unauthorized copy of a credit card. This is also often known as skimming.
A thief will copy information at a credit card terminal using an electronic device, then they will transfer the data from the stolen card onto a new card, or they may even rewrite an existing card with the information they gained from the stolen card.
We would love to tell you that technology has actually decreased this issue, and has come up with a way to stop it for good. However, that would be a lie. And sadly, technology has actually made it an even worse threat.
Cloning and related types of theft have become more and more widespread in recent years. Of course, to match this there have been more security improvements, such as the use of PINs and chip cards, which have helped to prevent these attacks more, but they do still happen.
So, to clarify, cloning/ duplicating is a type of credit card theft where a thief makes a digital copy of a credit card using a concealed or disguised scanner. Successful thieves can actually sell this information on the underground market, or download it onto other credit cards to make unauthorized purchases.
How Do Credit Cards Get Cloned?
Credit cards often get cloned in a process called ‘skimming’, this is where someone will obtain the details of your credit card and copy them onto a fake card and will then begin to use this. While the card is not new, the way in which the information is stolen is still not totally clear.
The first step is to take an unwilling individual, these thieves often use bartenders, wait staff, or shop assistants, as they are often prime targets for this as they handle a great deal of credit cards.
These individuals are given a pocket sized device with a scanning slot, which usually resembles a pager and can even be worn as a belt. They then get instructed to swipe customers cards through the device.
As the process takes only a few seconds, it can be done easily and inconspicuously without anyone noticing.
Doing so, copies the information on the magnetic strip into memories, which can then be copied to a counterfeit card, complete with the security holograms and all. This can also happen with ATMs as well, as it has been known that some criminals have placed false fronts on the card slots which then take information.
Credit Card Cloning Scams
These are considered scams and the fraudsters who use them rely on technologies like skimmers which are the devices we mentioned above, affixed to hardware such as POS terminals or ATMs.
These devices act as card readers that collect the victims’ information, from the card number, to the PIN, and the CCV data, all by reading the magnetic strip on the back of the card.
However, cloning does not even need to be done physically anymore, either. As contactless technology has actually made it even easier for fraudsters.
They can steal numerous card numbers using remote scanning devices just by walking down a crowded street with a concealed scanner in a backpack or purse. There are ways you can protect yourself from even this scary, easy fraud.
How To Protect Yourself From Credit Card Cloning
One way to protect yourself is through equally fancy technology, using EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) microchips; they act as safer, encrypted alternatives to magnetic stripes.
They use encrypted payment information, which makes it harder for a fraudster to clone the card. While it’s more secure, it has vulnerabilities too.
So, many POS terminals will allow transactions with either, and if the consumer isn’t comfortable using the EMV chip then they will use the stripe instead, which is compromised.
However, cybercriminals found a tactic that can allow them to make purchases using magnetic stripe cards with data intended for EMV chips. So, this isn’t flawless.
Then, we cannot forget how those pesky fraudsters can take your info with a concealed scanner thanks to contactless. Well, you can get RFID wallets, sleeves, and cards that block the scanning of your cards from inside your wallet. The only downside to these are that they are rather pricey.
What Should You Do If Your Credit Card Gets Duplicated?
If you do suspect that your credit card has been cloned, then you should make a call to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible to cancel the card. The less time that you leave, the less time thieves have to rack up charges on your card.
The good news is that consumers are not responsible for the amounts lost in cases of credit card fraud. And the Fair Credit Billing Act actually limits the liability to $50 if theft is reported.
So, looking at this, even if you are a victim of credit card fraud, you are not likely to end up being charged more than $50.
Obviously cancelling and reporting any card lost or that you suspect has been duplicated should be the first step, secondly you should consider how you can better secure and safeguard yourself and your finances in the future.