High-tech credit cards putting you at risk for fraud?Posted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- From cars to sports and even getting information, these days it seems everything is moving faster.
So it's no surprise the way we pay for things is speeding up, too. It's all because of a new device being implanted in hundreds of millions of credit and debit cards.
It's called Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, and it's a little chip that sends out a radio signal with your credit and debit card information on it.
RFID is supposed to make paying at stores quicker for consumers. All you do is wave your credit card in front of a device at the cash register instead of swiping it.
But the problem is the new technique could be putting your personal information at risk.
“They might as well print their credit card number on their shirt,” said credit card security expert Walt Augustinowicz.
Augustinowicz owns a Florida-based business called Identity Stronghold.
He purchased a credit card reader online for less than $100 and while 3 On Your Side watched, he walked through the campus of Arizona State University and showed us how easy it would be for crooks to steal information.
With permission, Augustinowicz scanned several students' wallets using the credit card reader, which he hid inside an iPad case.
Without even making contact, over and over again, Augustinowicz was able to pick off people's credit card numbers and expiration dates.
It’s basically anything a crook would need to charge up your bill.
Most people never knew they were so vulnerable.
Consumers can tell if their cards have are embedded with an RFID chip by a small symbol printed on the card.
But it's not just credit and debit cards that carry RFID. Augustinowicz showed us a stack of transit passes, exhibitor cards, even hotel room keys that he says all contain the technology.
While Augustinowicz admits stealing the information takes some effort, he says consumers should still be aware of the consequences and the risks.
“As these cards grow in numbers and the new cellphones that can actually read them too, you're going to see such an increase in credit card theft it’s going to be unbelievable,” he said. “The banks aren't going to be able to handle it at some point.”
Major credit card companies claim their RFID cards are secure and contain fraud protection. American Express tells 3 On Your Side it’s seen little to no fraud as a result of credit card readers.
Augustinowicz said his test proves the risk is there.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
He said you can request a card without RFID from your bank.
You can also use -- of all things -- aluminum foil. He said covering your credit card with it will block radio waves that allow crooks to steal your information.