Safeguarding Your Online Store from Carding Fraud: Essential Strategies

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding How Carding Attacks Work
  3. Top Techniques Used in Carding Attacks
  4. Combating Carding Fraud: Defensive Measures for Businesses
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQ


Imagine waking up to an inbox flooded with chargeback requests, a nightmare scenario for any online store owner. This could be a sign that your business has become a target of carding fraud, an increasingly common and costly issue in the eCommerce world. Reports indicate that between 2020 and 2021, card fraud surged by over 10%, with US merchants and cardholders alone suffering losses upwards of $12 billion. With predictions of global merchant losses due to card fraud reaching $362 billion between 2023 and 2028, understanding and combating carding fraud has never been more crucial. This comprehensive guide will delve deep into the nature of carding attacks, spotlight the primary techniques used by fraudsters, and outline the measures you can implement to shield your online storefront from this cyber menace.

Carding fraud, often referred to as credit card stuffing, is a sophisticated form of credit card theft. It occurs when cybercriminals, known as carders, utilize stolen credit card information to make unauthorized purchases or sell the information on the dark web. Despite the prevalence of chip and PIN technology designed to combat such fraud, the United States remains a prime target due to its slower adoption rate. This guide aims to equip eCommerce business owners with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect their ventures from these attacks.

Understanding How Carding Attacks Work

A carding attack typically begins with a breach of a merchant's online payment processing system. Cybercriminals employ various techniques to access a list of recently used debit and credit card information. Not limited to direct hacking, these criminals might also employ social engineering tactics or malware to obtain card details. Once in possession of this information, they use automated bots to verify the validity of the card numbers. Valid cards are then exploited for purchasing high-value goods, often reselling them later for cash, or directly selling the stolen information within criminal forums.

The immediate financial loss isn't the only consequence of a carding attack; the reputational damage to a business can be long-lasting. Merchants faced with disputed purchases must issue chargebacks, refunding the transaction amount to the cardholder, often alongside additional reversal charges. Legitimate transactions may also be blocked by payment processors until security issues are resolved, further hampering business operations.

Top Techniques Used in Carding Attacks

Credit Card Skimming

Skimming involves installing a device on ATMs, gas pumps, or POS systems that captures and stores all card details swiped through it. The data is then transferred to the criminals, usually over Bluetooth, allowing them to clone the cards or sell the information.

Social Engineering

This broad category includes phishing, vishing (voice phishing), smishing (SMS phishing), and pharming—all tactics designed to trick individuals into revealing their personal information. Phishing remains the most prevalent, with fraudulent emails mimicking legitimate businesses to lure victims into disclosing sensitive data.

Malware Attacks

Malicious software, or malware, encompasses trojans, ransomware, spyware, and more. These programs infiltrate computer systems to steal credit card information or other sensitive data, often spread through deceptive links or attachments in the guise of legitimate files.

Combating Carding Fraud: Defensive Measures for Businesses

To effectively counter carding fraud, businesses need to adopt a multi-faceted approach that addresses various potential vulnerabilities.

Address Verification Service (AVS)

AVS compares the billing address entered during the transaction with the card issuer's records. Mismatches can signal fraudulent activity, prompting the transaction's decline. While AVS is primarily effective in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, it serves as a critical first line of defense.

Card Verification Value (CVV) Checks

Requesting the CVV code at checkout ensures that the customer physically possesses the card, significantly reducing the risk of fraud orchestrated with stolen card numbers.

Geolocation Tracking

Advanced geolocation systems can detect discrepancies in the user's location, device type, or transaction habits. Suspicious activity, like access from a previously unused location or device, can trigger additional verification processes.


Implementing CAPTCHA tests on your site helps distinguish human users from automated bots. This simple but effective tool can prevent bots from decrypting passwords or conducting unauthorized transactions.


As eCommerce continues to flourish, the specter of carding fraud looms larger, posing a significant threat not only to consumers but to the very integrity of online businesses. Knowledge and vigilance are paramount in combating this issue. By understanding how carding attacks are carried out and implementing a comprehensive defense strategy—encompassing everything from AVS and CVV checks to geolocation tracking and CAPTCHA—you can secure your online store against these cyber threats. Protecting your business from carding fraud not only safeguards your revenue and reputation but also fosters a safer environment for your customers, contributing to the overall growth and credibility of your business in the competitive digital marketplace.


What is carding fraud?

Carding fraud is a type of credit card theft where stolen card information is used for unauthorized purchases or sold within criminal circles.

How can businesses detect carding fraud?

Businesses can detect potential carding fraud through unusual purchasing patterns, multiple failed transaction attempts, or discrepancies in AVS and CVV checks.

Are small businesses at risk of carding fraud?

Yes, small businesses are at risk and may be viewed as easier targets due to potentially lower security measures compared to larger corporations.

Can implementing CAPTCHA tests deter card fraud?

While CAPTCHA tests primarily deter automated bots, they contribute to an overall security posture that can reduce the likelihood of card fraud incidents.