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Carding definition

Carding is a type of cybercrime where people use stolen credit card information to buy things or get into someone's financial accounts without permission. Criminals, called carders, get hold of credit card details through illegal means like hacking or phishing. They then use these details to purchase things or services or to commit other types of financial fraud. Carding is a serious cybercrime that can lead to financial losses and other problems for the victims.

See also: scam, spear phishing

How carding works

  • Cybercriminals get stolen credit card details in many ways — from hacking into databases and phishing scams to buying these details from the dark web.
  • Before making purchases, the attackers check if the stolen card information is valid. They use small transactions to verify that the card is active and the information is correct (card testing).
  • In some cases, carders may create physical cards with the stolen details. They use these cards for in-person transactions, like swiping them at a store.
  • Cybercriminals can use this stolen information to make purchases online, typically on websites that don't have strong security measures to prevent fraudulent transactions.
  • To receive the purchased items, the criminals may use a drop address — an address that's not linked to them. Doing so makes it harder for law enforcement to track them down.
  • Once they’ve received the goods, criminals may either keep them or sell them for profit.
  • Carders often take steps to cover their tracks, like using online tools to hide their location, opting for anonymous payment methods, and encrypting communications.

How criminals steal card details

  • Data breaches. Cybercriminals may infiltrate databases of companies and websites to steal credit card information which they can then use for carding.
  • Phishing. Fraudsters may trick people into sharing credit card details by sending fake emails or messages. These messages often imitate banks or e-commerce platforms.
  • Dark web marketplaces. Criminals may purchase stolen card details in bulk on dark web marketplaces.
  • Carding networks and forums. You may even find dedicated forums where cybercriminals share techniques, tools, and stolen credit card information.