Has your credit card number been disclosed?


As data breaches become more and more common, many people fall victim to credit card leaks. Unfortunately, most don’t find out they were part of an offense until they are notified by their financial institutions.

But how are credit cards disclosed in the first place? Are there ways to proactively find out if you are part of a credit card breach to minimize damage and protect your sensitive data?

How do credit cards leak?

A security incident such as a data breach affecting a bank or any other database in which your credit card or personal data is stored can expose your credit card information to the world. Once this happens, you may be part of a data breach. This information is often sold on the dark web.

Here are some common methods by which credit cards can be disclosed.

Phishing emails

A hook trying to phish emails

The sole purpose of phishing emails is to trick users into clicking fraudulent links or downloading malicious attachments. The links look believable and familiar, but may ask users to click on other questionable links or ask them to enter account information.

Public Wi-Fi networks

While it’s nice to be able to access public Wi-Fi while having coffee or waiting at an airport, there is always a risk.

Public networks are susceptible to data breaches and Wi-Fi fragmentation attacks. If you enter your sensitive information or access your bank’s website while using a public Wi-Fi network, you can easily fall victim to such attacks. .

Advice: Install a VPN on your device if you often use the Internet in public.


An EMV chip

Although skimming mainly affects older types of cards with magnetic stripes, this method can still cause a lot of problems.

Skimming typically happens when a thief steals your credit card number while you are making a transaction, and then uses it to create a counterfeit card or perform online transactions that don’t require a physical card. Sometimes device skimmers are also used in places such as unattended terminals to steal card data.

Advice: Switch to EMV smart cards if you haven’t already, as they prevent device skimmers from interpreting the data. Special attention should be paid to unattended counters and payment terminals. If you see anything unusual in the card slot, avoid using it and alert an employee if possible.

Major data breaches

Large organizations such as retail businesses and banks can fall victim to data breaches, which can also put you at risk for credit card leaks.

One of the biggest data breaches of modern times struck Capital One in 2019 and affected tens of millions of consumers.

Insider attacks

Magnify a person as an insider threat.

Insider attacks occur when a privileged user like an administrator or even a disgruntled employee with access to a cardholder database decides to exfiltrate the data. While various measures (such as logging) exist in the banking system to prevent this from happening, the reality is that anyone with access can tamper with user logs if they wish.

Credit card leaks due to insider attacks are minimal, but there is always a possibility that they will occur.

Related: The Risk of Compromised Credentials and Insider Threats in the Workplace

Cardholder data in logs

Log files are much less protected than a cardholder database. Sometimes a developer can make a mistake that can go beyond review and instead send thousands of credit card numbers to log files.

Once this happens it can be very easy for attackers who are on the lookout to find credit card numbers in the log files.

form hijacking

Formjacking is a way to collect credit card data before it enters a secure environment. This type of attack uses script injection (via compromised static resources) to collect data as the user types it.

Have your credit card details been disclosed?

Worried about your credit card information being leaked? Here are some telltale signs to watch out for.

Strange purchases on your account

Seeing unknown purchases on your bank statement is a big red flag indicating that your credit card may have been breached.

Credit card leaks can happen at any time, so it’s important to continue to regularly check your bank account to stay in the know.

Small charges on your account

Most credit card thieves start with making small purchases on your credit card to avoid setting off red flags. A trickle of small charges that don’t sound familiar is a potential sign that someone has used your credit card for purchases.

Unknown business names on your statement

bank statement

If an unknown name appears on your statement for payments you have made, you should contact your credit card company to dispute the charge as soon as possible.

Noticing a payment made to a business name you are not familiar with could mean a credit card leak.

A lower available credit balance

Unexplained pending charges that indicate a reduced credit limit indicating that your credit card has been disclosed or tampered with.

If there are no justifiable large item purchases on your end, you should still investigate the real reason for the change in your available credit.

How to protect yourself against credit card leaks

It’s always best to be proactive and mitigate the risks associated with your credit cards. The following strategies can help you.

Use only secure websites


It is essential that you avoid entering personal information on unsecured websites. Look for a small padlock icon before the website address in the URL to make sure that the site you are trying to reach is encrypted using the secure HTTPS version of the Internet.

Although this is not a guarantee, it does give some assurance that the website practices a higher level of security.

Related: Does HTTPS Protect Data In Transit?

Do not give out your account number over the phone

Never give out your credit card or account number over the phone unless you are sure that the caller is legitimate. Be very careful of random fraudulent calls where a caller asks you for your credit card information.

Simply put: don’t share your private information over the phone!

Regularly check credit card statements

Regularly checking your statements is the best way to protect yourself against leaks and credit card fraud. As a general rule, you should check your statements at least once a month.

Immediately notify your card issuer or financial institution if you notice any suspicious charges.

Keep an eye on your card during in-person transactions

Never let a restaurant or retail store employee take your credit card and walk away with it. Once out of sight, the person holding your card can write down your card number, expiration date and security code, or make contactless payments!

Be proactive and limit the damage

Defend against data breaches.

Image Credit: TippaPatt / Shutterstock.com

A big part of preventing a data breach involves limiting the damage after your credit card details have been compromised.

Time is running out once you realize that your credit card could be tampered with. So act fast and freeze your broken credit card.

At the same time, continue to monitor your financials and sign up for identity theft and surveillance services.

Remember that by applying mitigation strategies before the damage occurs, you will not only limit the damage to your credit cards, but you can also prevent future attacks.

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