Credit card generators are not machines in their own right. They are simply software programs that use different credit card companies' number generating rules to create numerically valid credit card numbers. Their primary use is in credit card fraud, though there are some legitimate uses, such as testing e-commerce sites to ensure that the numbers process through correctly.
How They Work
Despite their common use, credit card generators are not intrinsically bad. In fact, credit card companies themselves use them to come up with numbers to issue on their cards. The software tells the computer to come up with a string of numbers of a certain length, and to apply certain rules to it. It eliminates number sequences that don't fit the rules, and it displays the rest of the numbers as feedback.
You might have noticed that certain types of cards have certain patterns.
- A Visa card number typically starts with a "4," while a MasterCard number typically starts with a "5."
- The first six digits of any credit card number are the bank identification number, which is the same for each card issued by that particular bank.
- The next six to nine digits are the account number, which will be different for each cardholder.
- The last digit is called the check digit. It used to validate that the card number is legitimate using the Luhn algorithm.
The credit card generator software uses these and other rules and generates hundreds, even thousands, of numbers that fit these rules. Obviously, though the law of averages, some of the numbers from the credit card generator may be actually active credit card numbers, although most of them are not. An identity thief only needs one valid number to cause havoc in someone's financial life.
Where They Get Them
You do not need to go to a store to purchase credit card generator software. Most people simply buy the software online for download, either over the black market or through legitimate channels. Some companies that manufacture the program include Mobile Fish and DisCard.
The software itself is not illegal. It is only illegal if you use it to generate legitimate numbers and then use them for fraudulent purposes. You can also make your own program if you are well-versed in coding.
How Fraud Happens
The criminals use the numbers the credit card generator creates to make fake cards and find a place that takes credit cards but cannot immediately validate the numbers, such as a trade show, to make purchases.
More often, they make purchases online, entering number after number until one of them goes through. Usually, the criminal tests the credit card generator numbers by making small transactions, sometimes of just a few cents. In order to avoid being traced, he or she puts in a bogus address for delivery. Once the thief finds a valid number, it is open season on purchases until the real card owner discovers the fraud.
Consumer Fraud Protection
As a consumer, you can protect yourself from being the victim of credit card generator fraud by checking your credit card statements. This way, you can quickly catch any charges made with a card you own and perhaps have even forgotten about. Also, check your credit report at least once a quarter and look for any suspicious activity.
Merchant Fraud Protection
As a merchant, your best protection against criminal credit card generators is using additional verification information with any credit card transaction. Card generator numbers are a bit like the lottery; the odds of getting an exact match go down dramatically with every extra number you ask for. Whether you process transactions personally or have shopping cart software doing all the processing, ask for, or have the system automate requests for:
- The billing address and the shipping address
- The credit card's expiration date
- The credit card's security code
You can also fight fraud by reporting any kind of suspicious purchasing activity, such as repeated unsuccessful attempts to charge small purchases.
Report Fraudulent Use
If you suspect that someone is using a credit card generator for fraudulent use, report the behavior to the Federal Trade Commission. You could save someone -- or perhaps many people -- a lot of time and money in the process.