It’s called “credit card shaving” and it’s the newest trend in identity theft. What’s even more alarming is that it doesn’t even require any of your information to be directly stolen. According to a recent article by Maxine Bernstein in The Oregonian, thieves have worked out a way to use valid credit card numbers without ever having the original card:
Like mathematicians searching for the right formula, such thieves painstakingly try out combinations of 16 digits until they come up with a series that fits someone’s card number.
They grab gift cards found in most grocery stores and craft their own credit card or debit card — shaving numbers off the gift cards with razor blades and gluing the right sequence onto a stolen bank card or a bank-issued gift card.
Evidently, it’s all the rage in the Portland area.
The details of how the scam is pulled off were given by an arrestee in a court affidavit:
Typically, the thieves have to alter only the last four digits of a credit card. The first 12 digits are the same on many cards because it is the bank identification code. Using razor blades, they shave off the last four digits, then iron the card so that any raised edges are flattened. They shave off the numbers they need from another card, usually a gift card, and apply them with superglue to the card being altered.
Stolen bank or credit cards are often altered because they can be used with new numbers long after their owners have deactivated them. Bank-issued gift cards, which have no names or expiration dates, are also used.
So what can you do to prevent this from happening to you? Keep up to date on what’s happening with all of your credit accounts and any checking accounts with cards attached to them. If you see anything out of the ordinary, act on it as quickly as possible.
You can read the article in full here.