When criminals get their hands on your credit card information, there are at least three things they can do with it: 1) Sell it to others online; 2) Use it to buy things online; or 3) Make a counterfeit card using your stolen credit card information. Whichever they choose, the end result will likely be purchases on your credit card bill that you didn't authorize. Here are some of the most frequently flagged items to look for on your bill, all on the wish lists of hackers and other criminals, ranked in no particular order.
1. Gift Cards
Gift cards are extremely popular for credit card thieves. They're anonymous and can be used like cash in the stores that offer them. In fact, they are almost as good as getting cash, without the ATM fees. Gift cards can be purchased in stores or online. The thief can use it himself or herself; or they could sell it online with a small discount.
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2. Online Services
Online services are another high-ticket item for credit card fraudsters. Look for subscription services as well as streaming-music services. Virtual Private Network, or VPN, services are also popular with people who deal in stolen credit cards. VPN services allow you to conduct transactions anonymously without letting merchants access the real IP number that's issued by your internet service provider — an ideal option for anyone living a life of crime.
3. Game Credits
People who deal in stolen credit cards may also enjoy playing video games during their off-time. This can be an expensive hobby, as some online games sell credits for hundreds of dollars. Like gift cards and online subscriptions, fraudsters can purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of credits online using your stolen credit card information.
4. Luxury Items
For thieves who take the time to create a counterfeit card using your credit card's information, buying luxury items like jewelry and high-end goods maximizes the return they get for each purchase. They can buy these items at a store and then sell them online at a discount and still walk away with a tidy sum. Look for charges in the thousands of dollars for items like luxury watches, diamond rings, or designer handbags.
Electronics can be expensive and are always in demand. These too can be purchased in a store using a counterfeit credit card and then sold at a discount. Popular items to look for on your credit card bill can include wearable gear such as smartwatches, as well as the cases for these devices — which themselves often cost a small fortune.
6. Business Services
Like any business, credit card criminals have monthly expenses they need to pay for. After all, it's hard to scam people out of their personal information if you don't have a presence on the web. Popular business items to look for include website hosting services, search engine optimization bills, online advertising coupons, website design services and even graphic design bills for company logos.
7. R & R
After a busy day of hacking, cybercriminals need to relax too. If you're in the business of fraud, it only makes sense to charge your leisure activities to someone's stolen credit card. Choice items that may be added to your credit card bill include late-night snacks, energy drinks and luxury hotel suites.