Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pickpocketing In The 21st Century


Just charge it!  It's the age of plastic, and people seem to use it for almost everything they purchase.  You pull your credit card out to make a purchase and then shove it safely back into your wallet or purse.   Wait a minute, did I just say "safely"?  Guess I'd better rephrase that.
"Thanks to new technology called RFID's, or Radio Frequency Identification, millions of credit cards out there are now contact free.
Walt Augustinowicz, an expert trying to help people prevent identity theft has this to say, "You can actually scan them right through your wallet or your purse".  Adding, "they're supposed to make things quicker and easier".
And while not all credit or debit cards have the chips right now, he says eventually they'll be used in all of your plastic, likely making life easier for crooks too.
Augustinowicz continued, "Now they just have to walk by you and get close to you.  They don't have to touch you so it's a lot easier".
How can crooks steal your info if they don't ever touch your card?
A simple scanner.  The kind you see at gas stations and grocery stores.
You can actually buy them from E-bay for from $10 to $30 USD.
Walt showed us just how easy it is to use the scanners.
He puts a card with an RFID chip in his wallet and then into his back pocket.  When he picks up the scanner and puts it an inch from his pocket, it beeps, and the information, including card number and expiration date pop up on the computer screen.
I know, a lot of you are thinking, "my card doesn't have a chip like that".  Are you sure?  One shopper didn't think she had one of the cards, but a quick swipe of the scanner near her wallet proved otherwise.  The scan reads off her full credit card number, name and expiration date proving there IS an RFID chip inside!
So, how can you protect yourself?

Augustinowicz says you can ask you credit card company or bank for a card without the chip, but he says some don't offer or make them anymore. That's why he came up with shielding sleeves produced by his company, Identity Stronghold.
Basically, they're small sleeves that you put your credit card, debit card or passport inside. The sleeve blocks the RFID from being read. His product is so powerful even government agencies are jumping on board to protect you.
"The U.S. Passport card comes with it. The drivers license in Vermont comes with it," he says. And the list doesn't stop there.
While crooks might not be able to swipe all of your personal information from the RFID chips, Augustinwicz reminds you even one piece to the puzzle is too much.
"People build a portfolio on you and that's how they commit bigger identity theft. Once they know you're date of birth, where you live, things about your name they can figure out other things and then they can get new credit cards in your name," he warns.

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