Thursday, July 12, 2007

Con Man's Back Room Game: Fictitious Credit Cards

If it's your ambition to become an Identity thief, you've got a tough row to beat. You've got to become skilled at a bunch of new things: ear-to-the-ground listening in public for starters. Eavesdropping everywhere. Dumpster diving. You must learn how to suck up tidbits of information like pulling a plunger from a toilet bowl. Inconspicuous loitering around key banking terminals is another talent you must acquire. And, along the way you must also know how to refrain from interrogation techniques wherein you risk exposing your own identity. Challenges. Many, you'd better believe it. All are formidable.

Now, the most gifted of these criminals have learned a way to short cut this whole messy procedure. They have shrunk it, boiled it down, to a true "Lazy Way" to fleece.


Shift operations to the back room--out of sight. Create fictitious credit card numbers. This, the scam artists are now accomplishing, based on the algorithms used by the card-issuing companies themselves. They are producing authentic- seeming numbers. Very often these fake numbers are so professionally constructed that they easily pass verification fire walls and are actually given approval codes.

Advantages to the thief? If the scamster concentrates on scamming only businesses that operate via phone or over the internet--where showing cards is not necessary; where only digits count-- abundant possibilities for theft spring forth.

So, if you are a phone or internet business, how do you protect yourself from these scams?While technology is coming to your aid--fast--you can't wait. In the meantime, here are just a few of the defensive steps you can take:

Because a phony number might still come out the same as the one on your MasterCard, it is essential for the thief to keep the true number-holder blind as to what is going on. (This is why double addresses are so often used.) Hence, from the seller's side of the problem, much suspicion must be focused on all bill to / ship to double-address orders. Other red-light warnings are orders that are bigger than typical: orders requiring fast shipping (remember, the thief cares nothing of the cost--he has no intention of paying anything at all); early date cards--those with much time remaining before expiration.

A big minus for the thief: as his delusions of grandeur grows, technology is fast catching up. The card processors, not being born yesterday, are going, full-bore, at solving this threat to them. So, bank on it: with their vast financial resources, they will.

In the meantime, it behooves the merchant to show a maximum of caution, be vigilant, observing, and ready to slam the door on quick notice.

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