We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Credit Card Shaving?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There is a relatively new form of credit card fraud and identity theft which does not require a victim's actual plastic credit card, just the random customer identification number it contains. The scam known as credit card shaving has grown in popularity in recent years because of its low tech methodology and no need for social engineering or other high-risk identity theft tactics. The criminal doesn't even have to make any personal contact at all with the victim in order to pull off a credit card shaving scam.

The scheme begins with the scammer testing out a random series of 16 numbers which could conceivably match an existing credit card account. This step may be a little time-consuming, but once a match is found, the identity thief now has the legitimate credit card account number of an unwitting victim. No other personal identification, such as a PIN number or expiration date, is strictly necessary, just the 16 numbers of an active account.

The next step in a credit card shaving scam involves a trip to a local grocery or department store where plastic gift cards are sold. The scammer is not necessarily interested in using the gift cards themselves, but he or she needs the raised plastic numbers they contain. Using a razor blade or utility knife, the scammer literally shaves off these numbers for future use.

Many credit card account numbers use the same initial 12 numbers as bank identifiers or other general verification codes. It is the last four numbers which are unique to each credit card holder. The scammer uses either an old credit card or a bank gift card as a base for the fraud. The last four numbers are carefully shaved off and replaced with the stolen account's last four digits constructed from the shaved gift cards. The numbers are literally superglued to the card to appear authentic.

In a credit card shaving scheme, the actual plastic card is only a diversion. The scammer intentionally damages the card's magnetic stripe, which renders the card unreadable electronically. The vendor must manually enter the account information into the processor, which means the victim's authentic credit card numbers will be used in the transaction. The scammer enjoys the benefits of the purchases, while the victim is unknowingly charged for all of them.

Credit card shaving is a particularly difficult identity theft scam to prevent. The victim cannot prevent a savvy or patient thief from generating a matching credit card account number. The vendor may not notice the altered card information if the criminal is especially skilled with a razor blade and superglue. By the time the scam is discovered, usually by the victim receiving a laundry list of unauthorized charges, the identity theft could have moved onto a new random account.

The identity thieves who have been arrested for credit card shaving have generally made a revealing mistake due to the nature of their purchases or have been thwarted by vendors who recognized an illegally altered credit card and reported the transaction to authorities.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon17464 — On Aug 30, 2008

so, how do we protect ourselves?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.