A credit card dump refers to the data in the magnetic stripe of a credit card. These details include the card holder's name, card number, expiration date, billing address and phone number. Using these pieces of information, criminals can create a physical copy of an active credit card and charge various unauthorized financial transactions on it. Each card sells for $20 to $100, according to Business Week and the New York Times.
Criminals obtain the information in the credit card dump using a process known as "skimming," according to Business Week. In this process, an unauthorized card reader copies the data contained in the credit card. Hackers may also enter financial databases that contain the required information. Another method for getting the data is to send spam emails to credit card holders in the hopes that the victims will reveal their account information.
After getting the credit card dump data, criminals usually sell it over the Internet, according to the New York Times. The trade structure includes buyers, sellers, intermediaries and service providers, such as code writers who send spam emails to credit card holders. These individuals use pseudonyms on the online black market. They are based in different parts of the world but usually run their business from computer servers in the former Soviet Union.
The credit card dump industry presents a "long-term threat to the American financial industry," according to the New York Times. Unauthorized use of credit cards affects about 10 million Americans, resulting in a loss of $5 billion to consumers and $48 billion to businesses every year. Symantec, a maker of computer security software, estimated in 2008 that credit cards and bank accounts in the underground markets amount to a value of $7 billion.