Electronic Pick Pocketing
Believe it or not, electronic pick pocketing is at an all time high because of the fraudsters’ power of intention and advancement of technology knowledge and know how on their part. Another contributor to the increase in electronic pickpockets is banking reluctance to improve security and ensure privacy through consumer awareness and education as well as identity verification and transaction authorization. It is estimated that over one million credit card holders are at electronic pick pocketing risk.
Let’s briefly discuss what is electronic pick pocketing, how it happens and what the risks are. Traditionally, fraudsters have stolen physical credit cards to commit credit card fraud online, in the stores and gas stations. At times, identity thieves have used skimming devices to steal credit card information as consumers are using their credit cards to fill up gas or withdraw money from ATMs. To increase credit card security and 20 years behind Europe, United States is introducing, again at a very slow pace, Radio Frequency Identification or RFID enabled credit cards however this secure technology has been making easier for thieves to steal card information.
Usually, credit cards have to be swiped into a machine reader to pay for transactions. However, similar to our digital phones which people use to pay for coffee by placing their phone in front of a device at the counter, RFID credit cards can just be held near a machine reader which picks up the card information from a distance which is formidable for identity thieves who can steal card information without having to take physical possession of the card.
The use of RFID technology is not limited to credit cards and RFID chips are now being implanted into passports, pets, humans, store products and highway toll systems to make identification, tracking such as the medical history and payments a seamless, effective and efficient process.
RFID readers are not expensive at all and given their capabilities for high return on investments, this makes a great investment for career oriented identity thieves. They can just carry a reader around and any where they go, the reader will pick up a few RFID credit card signals ready to transfer information. The only electronic pick pocketing disadvantage thieves have right now is that they have to get within at least 4 inches of card proximity to transfer card information, however, I don’t see this disadvantage to last very long at technology is improving faster on their side than on the bank side.
One way banks have tried to counter this issue is by encrypting credit card information so even when they are stolen they are useless without proper decryption. It is important to note that as indicated above, Europe has been using RFID technology for some time and US has implanted RFID on only about 20% of cards and as a result, Europe has a bigger problem in this area than the US but as we all move toward same technologies, we will all soon have the same problems.
In conclusion, if you have RFID enabled credit cards, make sure no one gets too close to you as they might be scanning your pockets and bags for electronic pick pocketing. I like the RFID idea for accurate, complete and fast monitoring of humans, pets and objects or payment as long as they are secure and do not force consumers to spend time calling banks and claiming innocence for unauthorized transactions. With RFID cards, the same basic problem still exists which is if our cards are lost, the information can be stolen to commit credit cards fraud.
Other than making sure no one gets too close for electronic pick pocketing, there are aluminum wallets which claim to protect RFID credit cards from electronic pick pickets. I’m not sure if they work or can satisfy everyone’s taste for designer items, but I thought I should bring this up in case someone is interested.
Learn more about RFID credit cards and prevent electronic pick pocketing.