How Do Credit Card Numbers Get Stolen?

Discover 5 surprising places it can happen

Just how are credit card numbers stolen even when a card is tucked safely away in your wallet? Check out these 5 eye-opening places where a card number could be stolen—you might be giving your information away to the wrong people without even knowing it.

1. At the Pump

While you’re fueling up for your roadtrip, someone else could be grabbing your credit card number. Look out for suspicious card-reading devices that can be attached right over legitimate ones—like at a gas station or ATM—to steal your info when you pay.

2. Over a Latte

While you shop online with your laptop or maybe pay some bills on your phone, the wi-fi network that looks like it’s the coffee shop’s may actually be a fake. Any credit card numbers you send while you’re logged in could be easily collected. To protect the info you’re sharing and make it harder to steal, make sure you’re using an encrypted network—look for “https://” in the web address.

3. In Your Inbox

You may have heard of “phishing,” and we don’t mean off the back of a boat. These common scams can arrive by email, text or social media message. You’ll see a request for your credit card or Social Security number from what seems to be a familiar site—like a well-known store or bank. But reply and you’ll be giving thieves exactly what they’re looking for.

4. On the Phone

A lady called saying she’s trying to help solve a mysterious charge on your card. She just needs you to confirm your credit card number to make the fix. It’s called “vishing” (voice phishing) and you don’t want to fall for it. No matter how convincing she sounds, avoid giving your account number or other personal information over the phone unless you made the call.

5. At the Curb

Seriously? Yes. If you stuffed those credit card statements or receipts in the recycling without shredding them first, you might be giving “dumpster divers” a chance to turn your garbage into gold.

Nobody wants to think of familiar places as risky or worry about being tricked by someone they’ve never met. But staying aware of the threats that are out there might just stop a bad guy from getting ahold of your credit card number. And if you ever find that your plastic is actually missing, we’ve got some good tips on what to do if your credit card is lost or stolen. Let’s keep those cards—and numbers—safe.

We hope that you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.