Identity thieves are becoming more and more crafty – and apparently, it’s no longer safe to even walk down the street if one of them is nearby.
Many credit card companies now place Radio Frequency Identification chips inside cards. They’re also found in many debit cards, and even passports and driver’s licenses. So instead of having to swipe your card, you need only to place it near a sensor. Same with the passport and driver’s license. The system offers ease of use and fast service.
The problem with this new technology is that thieves can acquire the technology to scan your credit and debit cards, and they only need to walk by you to do it. It’s called electronic pickpocketing.
For about $100, a thief can buy the needed equipment online to perform this task. Then, if he can just get kind of close to a person’s back pocket or purse, he can use the equipment to read the credit or debit card and download the account numbers, expiration date and other data.
Cards equipped with this type of technology use an encrypted security code to verify a transaction, which can protect against certain types of fraud – but not against someone who pulls the name and number from a card and used the information to make online purchases, for example.
How can you protect yourself? Leave your card in the protective sleeve your credit card issuer, bank or the DMV provided. It’s specially designed to prevent scanners from reading the card. If you don’t have a sleeve, ask for one. You can also find them for sale online.
Visa has begun requiring that banks not issue cards that transmit the cardholder’s name. American Express has followed suit. American Express cards also transmit a number different from that displayed on the card.
Not sure if your card has RFID? To identify whether your Visa card has this chip, look for the wave-like symbol. Other cards also feature this symbol. On the American Express card, you can see the actual chip. If you’re not sure, call your bank or card issuer.
If you don’t want a card with a chip, simply call your bank or card issuer and request one without it, or at least one that doesn’t transmit your name.