Protecting Credit Cards with RFID

Did you know that someone can steal your credit/debit card information by just standing near you? They can if you have one of the new cards that work under the RFID technology. RFID - Radio Frequency Identification. It's been used for years already, most familiar to us would be hotel keys, or those little tags they put in things at the store that the clerk just swipes across the reader to get the product info and price. Well, now they are putting these little chips in credit, debit, and ID cards to make it easier to use. You don't have to swipe them, you simply wave them in front of a reader - that simple.


Personally, I never liked the idea of having a card like that, it's bad enough to have a debit card that has to be swiped and doesn't always ask for a pin number!

I just watched a program on Inside Edition tonight that showed a man using a card reader hidden in a computer bag. He would walk up next to or behind people shopping at a mall, maybe stand on the escalator behind them or in line at the cash register and casually hold this small bag with the hidden reader between him and the person near him. And if that person had a card with an RFID tag in their wallet or purse, the reader would pick up whatever information was on the card!

Wondering if this was for real, I did an internet search and found all kinds of information that validates these claims. Some of them (including Wikipedia) also say that the guys from Mythbusters were going to do a segment on how easy it is to get information from these cards, but they were told that financing for their show would be pulled if they did!


The companies that issue these cards say they are safe, that information can't be stolen off the cards, that if it WAS stolen, it couldn't be used because it doesn't give the security code, and that if it was by chance able to be used to purchase something, you wouldn't be libel for paying the charges anyway. So how come the reporter from this TV show was able to use the information obtained by one of these card readers to order something by telephone and charge it to someone else's card,then have it sent to his address? And even if you don't have to pay for fraudulent charges, you have to deal with the headache involved in getting the charges are removed; and hope it doesn't mess up your credit score in the process!

How do you know if you have one of these? You don't have to swipe them like most cards, you just wave it in front of the reader. Credit card companies don't always tell you they put these in your cards. Cards will sometimes have a PayPass logo on it, or there will be several small wavy lines on the back, like radio frequency lines (I can't remember what direction they go, but they would be like ((( or ))).) But really, the safest way to find out if you have a card with one of these chips in it, would be to call the phone number on the back of the card and ask them.


What can you do to protect yourself if you do have one of these cards? Most companies will re-issue you a new card without the chip if you ask for one. If you like the convenience of the card, you can find companies on the internet that sell special card sleeves and even special wallets with liners that block the ability of the card to be scanned until it's removed from the protective sleeve.

Or - the THRIFTY way to do it would be to simply wrap the card in a piece of aluminum foil when you aren't using it!

By lyonpridej from Oklahoma

Editor's Note: Here is the link to the Wikipedia article:

March 2, 20110 found this helpful

I saw that program too and I was appalled!! I had never heard of such a thing. Of course I had to go immediately to my wallet and look to see if I have any of the card that were featured. Thankfully, I don't.

Be careful! There's new ways to steal from us every day.

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March 4, 20110 found this helpful

And I thought the author whose book included this info (sorry I've forgotten the name and title) was just imagining things or had become a conspiracy theorist! I don't think my debit card includes the RFID chip, it has to be swiped. But I'll have hubby double-check it just in case. Thanks!

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