Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Thieves may sell your credit card info for $2

A new report details the vast underground market for personal and financial data, which offers everything from credit card numbers to fake ATM machines.

By Teresa Mears Jan 24, 2011 2:59PM

We've all heard about people who have fallen victim to identity theft.


But what happens to your details once they are stolen?


Rather than use your credit card, the thieves may sell it in a vast black market, which conducts much of its work in shadowy underground forums but sometimes is brazen enough to advertise on Facebook or Twitter. The worst? Your stolen card number can yield as little as $2.


In an investigation that sounds like an episode of "Law and Order," a Spanish security company sent its researchers undercover to plumb the murky depths of the black market in stolen credit cards, bank account numbers and other financial data. You can read their report (.pdf file).


This is how PandaLabs explained its results in a news release:

The cyber-crime black market, which has traditionally centered on distributing bank and credit card details stolen from users around the world, diversified its business model in 2010, and now sells a much broader range of hacked confidential information including bank credentials, log-ins, passwords, fake credit cards and more. But as openly available as this information is, PandaLabs discovered that it can only be accessed by personally contacting the hackers who are promoting their information for sale on forums and in chat rooms.

"When I researched the area in 2007 there were only a few places you could do these transactions, and most of them were in Russia. But now they're everywhere," PandaLabs technical director Luis Corrons told Phil Muncaster of the British online journal "It's so easy to do this, and we as an industry are so bad at stopping them."

The underground network of stolen-data brokers operates much like a legitimate business, with offers of "money-back guarantees," price lists and even price wars. But the thieves usually don't take credit cards, instead demanding payment by Western Union or wire transfer.


Wondering what different types of data go for? The PandaLabs report  included a chart, which is reproduced at CNET News. Here are some of the prices:

  • Credit card details: $2 to $90.
  • Actual credit cards: $190 and up, plus the cost of details.
  • Bank credentials: $80 to $700 (the higher price is for an account with a guaranteed balance).
  • Card cloning machines: $200 to $1,000.
  • Fake ATM machines: up to $35,000.

More from MSN Money:



Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.