Your PIN number sold for just £19

Updated: 
All your debt and credit card passwords sold for just £19 - available to just about anyone accessing a Russian website.

Online scams and sophisticated tracking devices duping people to give up PIN numbers and account details are seeing a rash of new illegal 'card' websites sprout up in Asia or Eastern Europe. Are you at risk?

How safe are you?

The new Money Mail investigation is an unnerving read. "Money Mail was offered a bundle of details from any UK bank card we wished. The details may have been enough to allow criminals to shop online and buy goods in stores and countries which don't use chip-and-pin technology."

Computer viruses that infect your computer, allowing programs to read passwords is one route for the online crims. The Mail investigation claims that 'skimmers' attached to cash machines are being increasing used. These details are then sold on in bulk to 'carding' websites, often based in China or Russia.


£25 per card

One website was even selling British Visa card numbers with their security codes - and credit limits of £2,000 each. Price? Just £25 per card.

Even though you may not be a target yourself, everyone with a bank account pays the cost of these scams. It's thought each set of British stolen credit cards costs UK banks £120. This money has to be clawed back by the banks somehow. Often these costs are absorbed back via higher overdraft or loan fees.

Certainly online bank and credit card fraud is getting increasingly sophisticated, and can often appear highly authentic. Nationwide Building Society says, for example, it will never ask any customer to update any of their account information by email.

Dear Valued Customer

"Fraudulent e-mails," says Nationwide, "are not normally addressed to you personally as all the fraudsters know about you is your e-mail address. It may be addressed to 'Dear Valued Customer' or something equally vague."

This banking player does e-mail details of products and services, from time to time, to their customers. "These e-mails will always come from nationwide@nationwidebuildingsociety-email.co.uk and will always display your postcode at the top and bottom so you can be sure that it is genuine," it says.

For information on how to spot scams and protect yourself online, take a look at Bank Safe Online. The Action Fraud website is another helpful resource covering a wide range of consumer fraud worries.

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• Nationwide is an AOL Money partner, but has not paid to be promoted through this story.

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