Credit card fraud is something that everyone – private individuals and businesses alike – should be wary of, because its impacts can be far-reaching. With the adoption of the Europay, Mastercard and Visa technologies – commonly referred to as EMV – it may be easy to become complacent about our credit card security, but there are still scams and hackers out there waiting to take your personal information and destroy your credit score, among other unfortunate circumstances.
The statistics surrounding credit card fraud are startling. NASDAQ reported that in 2014, 54 percent of the data breaches that occurred were involved in some sort of identity theft, and 17 percent were aimed at financial account access. Even more unsettling, the U.S. is responsible for 47 percent of the world's credit card fraud, and in 2014, around 31.8 million U.S. consumers experienced a credit card breach. In 2015, The Nilson Report found that worldwide credit card fraud came to a startling price tag of $16.31 billion, according to PYMNTS.com. This can result in a loss of money and, if levied against businesses, loss of reputation that's harder to bounce back from than financial problems.
These numbers are no doubt going to continue to increase until consumers and enterprises alike take their cyber security seriously. Some recent issues across the world have indicated that this is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed, and investing in cyber security software is a good first step in the right direction.
Banking in Brazil: The woes of credit card fraud
Researchers at Trend Micro recently discovered that credit card "verification" is being offered as a service by a hacker in Brazil. Verification is an important part in the process by which these hackers perpetrate credit card fraud – by verifying a card, hackers can check that it still works. This is done by charging small amounts to the card and making sure it hasn't been reported as lost or stolen.
The new service, called CheckerCC, is believed to be run by a teenager in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It offers, for a fee of approximately $25 per month, the ability to verify credit cards. It has a database of credit cards where hackers can check credentials and see if the numbers are still in use. Before CheckerCC, the fraudsters would use a program on their own computers to perform this kind of check. The convenience of using the service saves the criminals time.
Symptom of an ongoing problem
Brazil itself seems to be a hotbed of cyber-criminal activity. According to Foreign Affairs contributors Robert Muggah and Nathan Thompson, the number of cyberattacks within Brazil grew by 197 percent in 2014. What's more, the county ranks second in the world in online banking fraud and financial malware. This is creating undue strain on Brazil's economy, as it has lost hundreds of millions of dollars to these efforts – one report even stated that there had been a loss of $4.1 to $4.7 billion in 2013. Another study cited by Muggah and Thompson reported that the parties most likely to be impacted were small- and medium-sized businesses.
In addition, the country's online presence is rife with training manuals that teach wannabe hackers how to be successful at all kinds of fraud. According to Trend Micro researchers, myriad ads for cyber crime hacking manuals and training courses can be easily found on the Brazilian underground. These advertisements showcase classes on how to set up botnets, create phishing scams and even write malware code. The demand for this kind of training has ballooned in recent years.
"Offering such training and tutorials must be lucrative, and the demand is certainly there," the Trend Micro researchers wrote in January. "Lax law enforcement in Brazil contributes toward an environment where quick returns and low risk creates an incentive for individuals to engage themselves in the online crime business. The community that is willing to help out newcomers, give them basic tools to get started, and guide them through the most important steps."
This is, understandably, concerning. The fraud and identity theft problem in Brazil will only be compounded by these hackers passing along their information and expertise to newer generations of fraudsters, creating a vicious cycle of cyber crime.
What can be done?
With the high level of cyber crime in Brazil and the growing trend in data breaches around the world, the immediate question is how to prevent these kinds of break-ins. The most important part of any cyber-crime prevention strategy is the technology you're using to safeguard your important financial data. Credit card fraud can happen to anyone, so cyber security solutions and software are critical in keeping information private and your money safe.
Small- and medium-sized businesses can also benefit from these kinds of technologies. By enlisting the help of an effective cyber security solution, businesses can help protect their customers' important data – an especially important capability in this day and age. The highly publicized attacks against giant retailers like Target have brought online security to the forefront of consumers' minds, and businesses need to accommodate their customers' fears. By investing in solutions like virus protection software and point-of-sale security services, organizations can fully support their data protection needs.
Companies and individuals alike need to know their financial information is safe from cyber criminals who want nothing more than to steal their money and identities. Investing in effective cyber security solutions is a good first step in the right direction to protect important confidential information.