How Can Crooks Use My Debit Card Number Without Having the Card?

by Derek Odom

In General

Theft is still prevalent.

Armed with just your debit card number, thieves have any number of ways and places to go in order to use it. Some places do not even require the expiration date or the secret PIN code attached to certain debit cards, which allows them to be used as a regular credit card. The top two choices for criminals are phone and Internet shopping, because the anonymity allows a villain to slip in and out of a purchase undetected.

Telephone Purchase

Purchasing goods over the telephone.

The ease of purchasing goods and services over the telephone simply by using a debit card number is astonishing. Thieves can just call up the vendors, indicate which items they wish to purchase and then relay your card number. It really is that easy, which is why it is crucial not to lend your card out to anyone and never keep it visible at the ATM or the store any longer than necessary. That number is the link to your bank account and all the money in it.

The Internet

Internet thieves are very common.

This is probably the most popular choice by far for debit card crooks, because all they need is access to a computer with an Internet connection. These are available at the local library, schools, colleges and Internet cafes–almost anywhere. People who are going to use your debit card number to illegally purchase something are most likely going to choose one of these locations so that the IP address cannot be traced back to their home, although they are not always that smart. Whichever computer they choose to use, all that is necessary is for them to browse until something is found to purchase and enter in the debit card number. Most Internet shops require the expiration date, but this date is usually listed right on the front of the card and is not hard to find, making it easy for someone standing in line behind you to see it and write it down. The thief then can simply fill out a shipping address and complete the purchase. If you order from online stores with any frequency from home, many times the card number will be stored on the site and automatically pop up with purchases, so it is vital to watch who uses your computer and where they go. Also, try to hide the front of your debit card whenever you are paying or using an ATM in public, because those numbers are all someone needs to completely clean you out.

About the Author

Derek Odom has freelanced since 2008 and is also an author of the macabre. He has been published on, and various other websites. Odom has an Associate of Arts in administration of justice.

Photo Credits

  • Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images