Personal Finance 

Are You Vulnerable to Electronic Pickpockets?

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With technology comes a great deal of convenience. You can wave your credit card in front of a card reader, without needing to swipe it. There are numerous attempts at creating digital wallets that can enable to you to pay wirelessly with your cell phone. Because of these methods of payments, you can save time at the grocery store and enjoy a level of convenience not seen with payments that require some kind of contact with a payment processing device.

However, with advances in technology you are also likely to see advances in the way others can steal your information. Indeed, according to Kiplinger, it is possible for some thieves to steal your credit card information wirelessly, taking advantage of the technology that is making payment so convenience.

Electronic Pickpocketing

Nearly one in four Americans, reports Kiplinger, has at least one credit card that transmits information wirelessly. Information that can be transmitted includes your credit card number, your name, other information that is necessary for a credit card transaction to go through. Information is transmitted to the receivers that you find at the specially-outfitted checkout devices. However, not all of the devices made to receive wireless credit card transactions are nailed down at the checkout counter.

Indeed, it is possible to buy equipment that allows you to process these transactions mobilely. It also means that it is possible for identity thieves and fraudsters with the right equipment to receive the signals your credit card is sending. You don’t even have to take your credit card out of your wallet or pocketbook in order to have the information stolen. If the thief moves close enough to you, it’s possible for him or her to steal the information they need.

Enhancing Security

For now, the majority of Americans don’t have these credit cards that act wirelessly, providing contactless payment. However, such technologies are growing, and the inclusion of a digital wallet, and the ability to use your smart phone to store and transmit payment information, questions about electronic pickpocketing are being raised. The good news is that some researchers are already trying to figure out how to thwart such criminals.

Kiplinger reports that the University of Pittsburgh is working on ways to head off electronic pickpocketing. Their idea is to create cards that only transmit data if a finger is present on a certain part of the card. This means that these types of cards would still require you to get out the card, and physically handle it, before any information could be transmitted without point of sale contact. This can be one way to head off some information stealing.

Indeed, one of the reasons many are reluctant to embrace the idea of the digital wallet is due to the fact that security can be such an issue. Technology may provide convenience, but ease of payment also means that your information is out there. Digital wallets come with hacking concerns, as well as worries about what happens if the phone is lost or stolen. There are still many questions and concerns to address before payment convenience becomes widely accepted.

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4 Responses to “Are You Vulnerable to Electronic Pickpockets?”

  1. Miranda,
    Good to know about the University of Pittsburgh’s work.

    In the meantime, aluminum wallets stifle thieves’ plans. For consumers who still love their wallet and want to protect their card info, slipping a piece of aluminum foil in the wallet can work.

    Even having two or more cards with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips in a wallet or purse can stop the thieves’ devices. The RFID chips will confuse the information.

    -Christian L.

  2. Linda LaFianza says:

    I believe this happened to me a couple of weeks ago with when my company Chase Visa and a personal Bank of America card were both hacked on the same day. It either happened on the train–I had a fellow suspiciously leaning on me using a tablet–or in the grocery store in an unusually long line a few hours later. Neither card left my wallet! Now I am using a clam shell aluminum keeper for all my cards. The companies won’t verify whether or not there is an RFID chip in their cards, or advise on how to turn them off. I would like to know more about using aluminum foil to foil such thefts.

  3. Rick Houle says:

    People need to really consider their priorities.

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