Select Credit Cards Leave Consumers Open To Electronic Pickpocketing

By: Matt Howerton Email
By: Matt Howerton Email

WACO (February 3, 2013)--Since their inception, credit cards have made buying things at stores and online easier for consumers all over the world.

But you'd be shocked to hear just how easy it is for someone to steal your credit card information without ever touching your wallet.

You've probably noticed how "paying" with a credit card has evolved over the years. Many still swipe their card, but a handful of consumers who own RFID credit cards merely just "wave" their card over a reader to pay for things.

RFID is short for Radio Frequency Identification. An RFID chip is placed inside certain credit cards and can contain either financial or personal information.

The technology allows you to "pay on the go," but could leave you open to electronic pickpocketing according to consumer advocate Walt Augustinowicz.

"Anybody can buy an RFID card reader off of the internet. It's all too easy to create malware that can read any RFID credit card and obtain anyone's credit card information," Augustinowicz said.

Augustinowicz runs Identity Stronghold. It's a business that provides protective wallets, purses, and credit card shields to consumers with RFID credit cards.

Identity Stronghold and Augustinowicz fashioned an RFID card reader to a battery and placed it inside a leather binder. With the binder, they could practically obtain any RFID credit card information they please.

"We could walk through a large crowd and this binder would read any RFID credit card," Augustinowicz said.

"All we have to do is just touch the binder to your wallet or to your purse. You'd probably never even notice it in a crowded area."

Augustinowicz demonstrated to News 10 via Skype how his contraption worked. After scanning an RFID card, the card's number and information were immediately sent to Augustinowicz's phone.

"Thieves are looking for the easiest route to take, and this is almost impossible to detect from a law enforcement standpoint," Augustinowicz said.

But Augustinowicz says thieves can also get to your money through mobile phone apps.

"We recently made a tic-tac-toe app on a phone and dropped a small piece of code into the game," Augustinowicz said.

"When people download it, their phone would start looking for credit and debit card information to scan so they could e-mail the data to a source."

M.R. "Bubba" Colyer of the McLennan County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division, has seen credit card fraud evolve over the years.

He says often the victim doesn't know until their bill comes. He can't elaborate on specific cases, but a recent one caught his eye.

"The suspects were able to get a victims credit card number, and before the victim even realized it, there had been $26,000 worth of charges on it," Colyer said.

Augustinowicz is trying to get the word out so consumers can be aware.

"This is going to be huge. There's literally going to be millions of people who will get ripped off because of this," Augustinowicz said.

Augustinowicz says the cheapest way to protect yourself from RFID credit card fraud is to wrap your card in tin foil.


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