JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There’s a new way for thieves to steal personal credit and debit card information without people even taking them out of their wallet or purse.
Hackers can use relatively cheap devices to communicate and steal information from cards with RFID chips in them. They are not the mainstream credit card in the U.S. but are becoming more widely used. Back in June 2011, Consumer Reports said there were 35 million cards in circulation.
Cards with RFID chips allow people to swipe-and-go, instead of waiting for a receipt. Many cards are often just “tapped” on the payment device instead of swiped.
“People don’t even know they can be victimized in this way, which is the main problem,” says Chris Gilpen, a senior consultant for the National Crime Stop Program.
Gilpen says thieves can come within about twenty feet of people and steal their information off their credit cards with the RFID chips.
“They’re talking to your cards,” Gilpen says.
Sgt. Bill Whitney with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit tells WOKV News they don’t have any confirmed cases of this happening in Jacksonville.
“However it’s extremely difficult to determine how someone’s identity is stolen unless you actually catch the suspect and get them with the equipment that they’re using,” Whitney says.
Whitney says the best way for consumers to protect themselves it to be “paranoid about their credit.”
He recommends checking statements daily. Many companies now sell wallets with RFID blockers built in. Cards can also be wrapped in tinfoil.