Sometimes I wish money grew on trees or I could print my own cash. When I heard there was such a thing as a credit card generator, I thought my wish had come true. As it turns out, the numbers they create will not let me quit my day job. I will explain what credit card generators are really used for and if they are legal.
It is legal to use a credit card generator. They can not be used to make purchases. The card numbers do not belong to anyone, they are used for testing.
What is a Credit Card Generator?
Before I tell you what’s legal or not, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing. Credit card generators are computer software that is designed to create credit card numbers based on a specific set of rules.
These are the numbers that you find on the front of credit cards that make each of them unique. The algorithm used to decide how to generate these numbers is intended to ensure that they follow the same format. But they also consistently provide numbers that are unique.
One thing that is consistent about these numbers has to do with the different major credit card companies. The card numbers begin with the same number sequence based on which company they are for. So, a Visa credit card number will not start with the same numbers as those of a MasterCard.
With this in mind, the obvious question would be what they are used for. Why do people need to generate credit card numbers? You can already imagine that credit card companies use these in order to provide the services that they do. But then why are these generators able to be found all over the internet?
Most Common Uses
- eCommerce Testing
- Bypass Website Signup Requirements
- Duplicate Free Trials
- Age Verification Workaround
- Research & Education
One of the most sincere uses of these generators is to provide a way for people who run and build eCommerce stores to test their projects. This way, developers have a way to make sure the payment process on their site is working. In these cases, you don’t want test purchases to complete successfully
Bypass Website Signup Requirements
Another purpose for these generators is for their use on websites that require credit card information in order to sign up. Websites such as Sedo, the marketplace for websites, require this information in order for a user to complete bids. This is one way for them not only to validate who the person is but also to avoid fake accounts.
It is also a method to ensure that payment will follow a successful bid. People use fake credit card information to avoid this security feature. One reason is to complete phony bids. But they also use them to avoid spam from other sites that require personal information. Also, they simply do not plan on actually using the site. They may just be browsing or using a demo.
Deceptive Practices Not Recommended
Duplicate Free Trials
Some websites offer free trials that require the entry of credit card information. Like the auction websites mentioned above, they too are trying to verify that each person only uses the services once.
It is also a bit of a marketing technique. This increases the chances of someone making a purchase. That is because their purchasing information is already on the website.
A user of these websites would use a number generator for one of two reasons. They are either attempting to get multiple free trials by pretending to be a different person every time they sign up. Or they are attempting to avoid spam.
It’s also very reasonable, for security purposes, not to provide your real credit card information to websites. This limits the risk of exposing your real credit card numbers.
Age Verification Workaround
Age verification is the next example. Some websites and video games require credit card information in order to verify the person’s age. This is done typically when there is content on the platform that is not appropriate for young ages.
This is generally effective because you have to be at least 18 to get a credit card in the US. Credit card generators obviously don’t have such restrictions since they do not lend actual money.
Research & Education
Lastly, the way in which these credit card numbers are generated is the subject of research and used for educational purposes. Technical knowledge is needed to create the algorithms or simply to understand how they work.
Computer science students may study these concepts as they learn their field. The same is true for their use in statistics classes at universities.
Is it Illegal to Use a Credit Card Generator?
Other than the use by credit card companies, website owners also test their online stores. This is among the most legitimate purposes. This activity is legal, common, and encouraged.
Required for signups on websites
Credit card generators used for this purpose are typically not deemed as an illegal activity. That is because there is no calculated value in regards to what you are accessing. Most websites are not charging people for access to this generating service.
What they are doing is exchanging your information for access to increase the chances that you will become a paying customer in the future. So, if by using the generated fake credit card numbers you are not obtaining any financial benefit obtaining it is not typically deemed criminal.
Also, the website is not likely to discover or prove that you provided incorrect information. Even if they did, the chances that they would do more than simply ban your access would be unlikely.
Required for free trials
Yes, this can be considered theft of services which is illegal in many states. The reason is the company providing the free trial is only providing it for free under an agreement. The understanding is it’s your first and only time using that service.
By breaking this contract it is a clear violation of civil law based on these terms. However, because of the way that theft of services is written in some states, this activity also falls under criminal law.
An example is if you take the phone, internet, or power lines from your neighbor. Then you rout it to your house for your own benefit. This would not necessarily be considered theft from your neighbor. But rather theft of services from the utility company.
With this concept in mind, you would be liable for at minimum the charges associated with whatever free trials that you gained under false pretenses. So depending on what the free trial is for, the true cost of that product would be a starting point for what you now owe.
This does not include any fees or fines imposed criminally. And it does not include any other damages that the company may pursue civilly.
Research & Educational
Credit card generators are completely legal for research and educational purposes. This type of usage has long been accepted as what is known as fair use. In copyright cases, information is generally protected by the creator. Even so, the toughest protections against another person using this are typically defeated when it is used for these legitimate purposes.
The reasoning is this use is not intended for commercial purposes and that the person using it will not be financially benefiting.
Use as Age Verification
This usage of credit card generators will land you in the most legal grey area than any other purpose mentioned. That is because there may be situations where its use is contrary to mostly terms of service and not the law. However, when it comes to a restriction of access to items and information based on age, many states do have laws on the books.
For example, you would not be able to purchase cigarettes if you are a juvenile. This is an example of a product. However, an example of information that would be restricted would be adult material. So, depending on which website or program you intend to deceive with the credit card generator makes all the difference.
Overall legality of Credit Card Generators
It is illegal to use a credit card generator when it gives you access to something illegal to possess by any other means. In this case, because the generator is furthering illegal activity, its use is also deemed illegal.
To paint the picture a little more broadly, it’s illegal to use the credit card generator for the purpose of doing anything illegal. It is within the use of the numbers generated rather than the actual process of obtaining these fake credit card numbers through the generator.
If you tried to Make a Purchase
The purchase would not complete and you would get an error message. It is highly unlikely the police would break down your door. The number had no real chance of working since it does not belong to a real person.
Ethical / Moral Considerations
There are no moral or ethical concerns with generating credit card numbers for the right reasons. However, society as a whole does not accept theft. Fraudulent purchases fall under the broad legal definition of theft. This is activity is universally considered ethically and morally wrong.
Stolen Credit Cards
Stolen credit cards refer to the act of obtaining real credit card numbers belonging to someone else. They have already been generated and have been issued to a real person. These pre-existing numbers are compromised and obtained through various illegal activities including hacking. This activity is not related to credit card generators.
Difference from Card Generators
This differs from credit card generators in one major way. And that is, the card generators are not providing already established numbers owned by someone else. Therefore, the numbers that are generated do not hold any value. These numbers cannot be used to make purchases.
However, leaked and stolen cards are real accounts that are linked to real people’s money. Because of this, actual purchases can be made. These purchases are illegal. This is because these purchases are not authorized by the original owner of the card number. And because these owners are now out of the money that was spent, they are a victim.
Why are Credit Card Numbers Free?
There’s one reason why card generators are free and easily accessible through an online search. It’s because the numbers generated hold no real value.
However, it is possible to find websites that attempt to sell generators. They may provide additional resources as well. They are able to charge because they have to account for the time and expertise it takes to compile the computer programming code. And they put it all together into a complete package.
In the meantime, hackers may also be selling real credit card numbers online. Generally, they are not advertised as card generators. This is because as we have now discussed, they have a different meaning. But, oftentimes these types of websites are found when searching for card generators. That’s due to the fact that the topics are so closely related.
It is most likely these websites will be found on the dark web. This can include the use of the Tor browser. For more information about Tor and its safety, read our article discussing if Tor is safe for normal browsing.
Spotting Fake Credit Card numbers
One way you can differentiate between legal credit card generators and stolen information is the stolen information will not be free. Meanwhile, the generator should not cost you anything.
Another way to tell is real credit card numbers are typically sold in batches for two main reasons. There is a low success rate. Credit card numbers expire or are flagged for fraud.
Hackers are not ethical and will sell the same batches to multiple people. Or they will sell fake numbers, which will hurt their name on the dark web. They also do this to spread the fraud into smaller withdraws.
If I saw a $50 charge on my card that I did not recognize I might rationalize it. I may think either myself or my wife made the purchase. The low amount does not encourage me to put in the time and effort to dispute it. A $500 or higher withdrawal will most likely get my attention quicker. So a scammer might make smaller withdraws from a higher number of people.
How to get a Credit Card Generator
Finding a credit card generator is very simple. All it really takes is a quick search on Google. However, you may run into a lot of spam sites. And with all of the options to choose from, you may not know which site is legitimate or not.
Not all websites offering credit card generators are the same. Here are three sites I found and researched. I have also tested them by creating numerous fake credit card numbers. And I have verified through an e-Commerce store that they work for testing purposes.
Mobile Fish, mobilefish.com
How Does a Credit Card Generator Work?
The coding behind it is rather sophisticated. That is because it involves a high degree of mathematics. For someone who has the necessary math skills, computing skills, and logical reasoning, it may be an easier task.
For more information, you might want to start by researching the LUHN algorithm. This is at the heart of every program that is written in order to generate these credit card numbers.
There is also a checksum or check number at the end like other similarly generated numbers. Other numbers that have this include the VIN number assigned to cars. What this number does is verifies that the generator was successful in creating a valid number.
And finally, they make sure that when you use the number it is not entered incorrectly. For example, if you confuse two numbers, add too many, or not enough. This check number will not match what they expect and an error message would appear.
Compatibility is another factor in determining why credit card numbers are generated the way they are. If everyone used their own algorithm instead of the LUHN, then it would almost surely create communication problems. It is similar to different people who speak different languages.
The reason why some don’t work is the generator is making educated guesses. These guesses are based on the algorithm and have an extremely high success rate.
Difference between these and virtual credit card numbers
Virtual credit card numbers are a temporary number used for each purchase. I use it through Apple Pay. I highly recommend it for purchases from any place that might be questionable. This could be a new or unpopular website or at gas stations.
For example, I use Apple Pay when I buy gasoline since skimming or stealing real credit card numbers is so popular. The temporary number is not valid by the time the criminal tries to use it.
How to Use a Credit Card Generator
The websites provided above are fairly self-explanatory as far as generating numbers. However, if you find another source for these numbers the instructions may not be so straightforward. In that case, here are some suggestions to make sure that you are successful.
The major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard use specific numbers. As you may have known from reading previously in this article, these are the beginning numbers. With that in mind, make sure you pay attention to which type of card you specify.
An example would be if you generate a Discover Card number for an eCommerce store you are testing. The site you are attempting to use it on may not accept this card provider.
Also, some generators are more advanced than others. Make sure you are using one that not only provides fake credit card numbers but also expiration and three-digit codes. Some even go as far as to provide example names and addresses to make the process complete.
The most important thing to remember is if you are generating multiple card numbers. Keep the expiration dates and security codes organized as they correspond to specific numbers and cannot be interchanged.
There are many legal uses for credit card generators. Examples include e-commerce testing, research, and education. Using these generators is not illegal. However, there are illegal and immoral uses such as bypassing website restrictions.
Keep in mind these credit card generators you find online are different from stolen credit card numbers. Possessing and using such stolen information will get you in trouble. The good news is you won’t come across them by mistake.
Finally, I hope you consider using a virtual credit card number if you don’t already. This is one more layer of security that can help avoid the headache of scammers.
If you use Apple Pay or a similar program to protect your credit card information, I’d love to hear your personal experience. Please send me a quick email through my Contact Page.