Look at the data stored on your credit card magstripe using flakes of rust

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Sometimes, you want to feel like a secret agent. You don't actually want to be one, since that involves danger (and probably having to run a lot and get up early in the morning), but you want to feel like one. Here's a super-sneaky way to ‘read' a credit card.

To begin your brush with Bond-dom, you'll need an old nail or some pins that have gone slightly rusty, something to scrape them against, a bowl to collect the filings in, and a credit card that's expired. If you want extra verisimilitude, you'll need an enclosed space, a camera, and a phone through which a friend is yelling things like, "They're coming, man! Get out! Get out of there!" Or maybe, "Bond, we need that information. Find a way."

Now, scrape the rusty object against a sharp edge so that the rust flakes away from it. Try to get tiny filings of rust, not large slabs. Keep scraping until you have enough fine dust to fill the bottom of a teaspoon. Wash and wipe down the card so there's no residual crud or ooze on it. (Yes, ooze. I don't know what you've done with that card. Something disgusting, I bet.) Then gently tip the filings onto the magnetic strip of the card. Let them cover most of the strip, and then gently clear them away by tapping the card.


You should see three lines of information. The top and bottom ones will contain fine lines closely spaced together. The middle one should have more empty spaces interspersed with dense areas. These lines, when scanned by a machine that can pick up the exact order and spacing of them, give your name, address, and credit card number, as well as a few other necessary details.

Congratulations! You've got a visual on your account information. If you've brought the camera along, get the card in good light, take a picture, and say something like, "I think you'll find paying those mercenaries very difficult now, La Fears." Tell your friend on the phone that you'll meet them at rendezvous point alpha, and head on out of there. Mission accomplished.


Via The Naked Scientists and Boing Boing.