In an effort to keep your credit and debit cards secure, you’ve probably heard discussions on the benefits of an RFID wallet crop up often. Before discussing the subject, it is important to learn about RFID technology so that you can decide whether you really need an RIFD wallet.
Credit and debit card numbers and their respective CVV (Card Verification Value located on back) are kept top-secret these days, owing mostly to the surge in credit card fraud and stolen identities. Even though fraud prevention technologies increase, fraudsters unfortunately are always a few steps ahead, and can steal your sacred numbers without even gaining physical access to your credit and debit cards.
How Do Thieves Steal Credit and Debit Card Information?
Thieves can literally cash in big with your credit card information via several channels and scams. Here are a few of the many way thieves can benefit tremendously from the information they get their hands on. Knowing what these unscrupulous tricks are will help you get a better perspective into what an RFID wallet is and why you need one.
Hacking business systems
We all do and very often register payment cards and personal details with big name companies mostly for payment processing. And you’ve also probably heard horror stories where many business data systems have been breached and information stolen such as JP Morgan Chase, Under Armour and Equifax.
Old-fashioned dumpster diving
This is one of the oldest and easiest ways for thieves to get their hands on your financial information. And even though this technique isn’t used as much it was few couple decades ago, it is still a breadwinner for many fraudsters.
Know that receipts and certain documents you throw out in the trash can be a treasure trove of information for thieves, such as those containing your address or even your full credit card number. It is a good idea to always shed these documents, before tossing them into the trash.
Installing malware or viruses on your computer
Thieves can gain access to your data through computers, laptops and even smartphones. The best solution to reduce the chances of this happening is by installing a premium antivirus software, preferably one that offers malware protection in real time. Turning off your smartphone or laptop’s Bluetooth feature when out in public can prevent BlueBorne attacks.
The Common Credit and Debit Card Scams
Gone are the days when thieves needed a simple imprint of your credit cards usually gained from one or more sources, but today they can skim data from highly secure systems, and steal credit card information with a few lines of code.
Although monitoring your card activity is a good practice, it is wise to take the necessary precautions and be aware of the latest scams to prevent thieves from accessing your information and avoid being a victim of identity theft. These scams could be played out while you’re having a sumptuous meal at a restaurant, pumping gas at a station, or during your commute to work.
The restaurant scam
This works when a waiter takes your card, and swipes it at the restaurant’s physical card terminal, which is out of sight. Now that the bill is paid, they swipe your card again only this time through a skimming device – usually as small as an ice cube.
So, while you were indulging in what’s left of your dessert, your credit card information was compromised. To prevent this from happening, ask the waiter to bring over the wireless POS (Point of Sale) terminal if available or walk over to the physical terminal and make the payment.
The gas station
This scam generally occurs at night and at self-serve gas stations, those with just a couple sleepy or distracted attendants. The perpetrator attaches a Bluetooth-enabled skimmer at the pump, which is configured to send a signal to a paired laptop. After pumping and paying for the gas, the perpetrator drives off short distance from where the data from the compromised pump can be retrieved.
The hotel scam
This one’s relatively easy to fall for, because you will be relaying your credit card info directly to the thief. You book a room at a hotel, arrive, check in and settle in. The phone in your room rings, and it’s the front desk clerk asking for your credit card details once again even though you provided them at the time of check-in.
You think nothing off it since they claim that the first transaction was unsuccessful, so you provide your card details and sometimes even your date of birth over the phone because you’re too tired make the trip down to the reception.
That person claiming to be the hotel receptionist on the phone is actually a thief, who has randomly called the hotel and asked to be connected with your room number. To prevent this, it is important that you refrain from revealing card details over the phone, and instead offer to go back down to reception to swipe your card in person.
Understanding RFID Technology
The acronym for radio-frequency identification – RFID – is a technology that allows digital data encoded in smart tags to be captured by a reader via radio frequency waves. Some of the latest contactless debit and credit cards feature Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) or RFID technology, which as the name suggests allows users to simply wave their card in front of a contactless point of sale terminal to make payments.
The RFID chip embedded in the credit or debit card does not have its own source of power, but rather uses the radio frequency energy transferred from the POS terminal as a source of power. With contactless cards, you skip the PIN entry or signature verification process, resulting in a quick and convenient checkout process.
The pitfall of RFID technology is that information from an RFID label or tag can easily be read with a radio frequency identification reader (RFID reader) from a distance up to 300 feet away. Apart from contactless credit and debit cards, RFID technology is used in several applications including automobile keys and locks, telephone and computer networks, and all US passports issued since 2007.
The RFID chip in your passport contains the personal information found on the photo page of the document, information that can be easily read with a RFID reader. So if you carry contactless credit and debit cards or your passport, you now know what it is and why you need to invest in an RFID-shielded wallet.