Why A Stolen European Credit Card Is Worth 5 American Cards

Photo (cc) by Robert Scoble

Hackers would much rather have a European credit card than yours.

The Washington Post explored why the going black market rate for American cards is about $10, and European cards about $50. There are two major reasons.

The first is the difference between card technology here and in Europe. In Europe, cards carry a chip with a function similar to our magnetic strip, but with added security measures, the Post says. After the European card is swiped, the user has to enter a PIN, as we would for a debit card.

In the U.S., merchants don’t use the technology that would take advantage of the added chip security, so when European cards are used here, they only have the protections of the magnetic strip, the Post says. Some European banks are slow to process transactions over the weekend, which means criminals could make copies of the foreign cards and have a weekend shopping spree before the fraud department overseas catches on and shuts them down.

The second reason hacked or stolen American cards are worth less is that they’re easier to come by. Many American companies have been successfully targeted by hackers, recently including Citibank, J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven and JetBlue, The New York Times says. They can suck out a whole database of credit card credentials, and don’t always dump them onto the black market right away. There’s already an overwhelming amount of stolen card numbers for sale, a security expert told the Post.

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