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Protect yourself from financial bullies

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is now more important than ever to be diligent about credit and debit card security. The first step is to acquaint yourself with the variety of scams and the methods used to enact them. One such scam is called a Brute Force Attack and it can affect any consumer who uses a card.

A Brute Force Attack occurs when a criminal gains access to your BIN number, or the first eight digits on a credit or debit card assigned to every financial institution. The criminal then uses an auto-dialer to connect the remaining eight digits to an active card and attempts to identify the expiration date and other card security data to obtain an approved authorization. The auto-dialer allows the criminal to perform unlimited guesses to gather the otherwise secure information.

Brute Force Attacks that are most prevalent today involve internet merchants with variations of card security data that can be used by criminals to perform hundreds of authorization attempts until an approval is obtained. Once the criminals get a successful hit, they will try to use the card information to make large internet purchases before the bank or the card holder notice the activity.

Brute force attacks are typically small fraudulent transactions, often under $1.00, where the attacker will keep running different card numbers until it comes back approved. Most of these attempts are flagged as fraudulent and are declined before posting to the account. The fraudsters are trying to guess card numbers and expiration dates in addition to the three-digit security code or the cardholder’s zip code.

You should always report unusual activity to your financial institution who will then investigate all suspicious transactions. Unless the fraudulent activity was officially posted to your account, no further action is needed because the fraud attempts were blocked by the financial institution’s security system. However, you may decide to close your existing debit or credit card for peace of mind.

First Keystone Community Bank, like most financial institutions, operates a fraud monitoring system that is designed to recognize and block suspicious activity and then follow-up with the card holder to determine the legitimacy of the transaction. This process prevents your information from being compromised.

In addition, card holders are strongly encouraged to use the following tips to be proactive when it comes to all types of credit card scams like Brute Force Attacks:

  • Use online banking to keep an eye on your transactions and activity.
    • Check your bank statements regularly to review all transactions.
    • Use the mobile banking app for alert features as to when your card is used.
    • Use the mobile banking app to turn your card off when you are not using it and then back on when you need it.

For more information on financial security, visit the First Keystone Community Bank website at

Written by Chris Zlobik

Chris is the Senior Vice President - Chief Banking Officer at First Keystone Community Bank. He has an 11 year career in community banking.

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Posted On:

November 30, 2022

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