RFID Chips Inspiring Fraud

A special report by WTHR News 13 discovered that RFID (radio frequency identification) chips inside specific credit cards are offering thieves a new, easy way to steal credit card data. Cards with RFID tags can be identified by a symbol featuring four curved lines, or by the words payPass, payWave or Blink. Customers with these cards can simply wave them at the POS and the RFID chip inside the card sends out a radio signal with the credit card information.

RFID is different from NFC. While both are wireless technologies, NFC is used at a shorter range and is used for secure applications, including payment. Meanwhile, RFID has a longer range, supports minimal security, and is used for very simple applications, according to the Smart Card Alliance.

RFID tags in credit cards are meant to offer a faster way to pay. The report showed thieves can easily obtain credit card data from cards with RFID chips with the use of a credit card reader—which can be found on the Internet for less than $100. Thieves put the card reader in a case, walk into a crowded space, such as an airport, and wave it near where a customer keeps their wallet—such as brushing against a man’s pocket or the side of a woman’s purse. The reader senses the RFID chip and can scan all the information from the card—including the card number and expiration date. From there, thieves can transfer the data onto a hotel key, which can then be used like a credit card at gas pumps or other points of purchase. With electronic payments, come electronic pick pocketing. While Visa, MasterCard and American Express site sophisticated fraud prevention and advanced capabilities or powerful security, including special safeguards that make sure thieves can’t do anything with the information. But the WTHR News 13 discovered differently in its televised experiment. Special cases for credit cards, or even homemade cases made out of tinfoil, can prevent the thieves from obtaining your credit card information, if they try to scan your card.

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