New Credit Cards: A Nuisance or Further Protection?

Recently I got a letter from my credit card company saying that they are issuing me with a new card despite the expiration date not being for another year or so. The letter stated that this was to try and help reduce fraud. But how can this help?

Although this may be a little inconvenient, all those ongoing payments that come off that card will need to be updated, it is a welcome move from the bank in question. Over the last year or so there have been several large hacks on popular websites that have resulted in the loss of credit and debit card details of thousands of customers. These sites include some that I have used that card on, including Ticketmaster and BA. There is no guarantee that my credit card details were one of those stolen, but there is a risk there and the bank have, albeit a little slowly in my opinion, decided that in order to reduce the likelihood of my old card being used in fraudulent activity to issue me with a new one.

Once a cyber criminal manages to steal a database of credit card details, they will probably test a few to make sure that they are valid and the details work. Once they have done this, the criminals will sell on the details to some other third party who is likely to use those details to commit fraud. This may take a few months, or in some cases years. Occasionally the details will even be sold on several times. The more recently the details have been stolen, the more they are worth, but even after a year or so the credit card details may still have some residual value. So even if your details have not been stolen and used quickly after a data breach, there is still a chance that there could be fraudulent activity on that account at some point in the future. Unless the card details that were stolen have been cancelled and replaced with a new card.

If you do think that one of your credit or debit cards has been involved in a data breach at some point, the first thing to do is not panic. Contact your bank and explain the situation and they should be willing to issue a replacement card for you. Also keep a close check on your account for any unusual transactions. They transaction may not necessarily be large, it could just be for a few pounds or even less. This is to test to see if the transaction goes through before a large transaction tales place.

If your bank do offer to replace your card, then see that as them being proactive to protect your account rather than being a nuisance.

- Gerry Grant, Chief Ethical Hacker

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