Photo Courtesy: FortuneWatch
Credit cards with a RFID chip have this symbol on the back.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WGRZ) -- Apparently, it's no longer enough to hold onto your wallet.
Sophisticated thieves can essentially steal your credit cards without ever touching them.
"I think it's scary that someone could just use your credit card and [you would] not even know about it," said Renee Wieder of Angola.
How does it work?
Many credit card companies now place tiny Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chips inside your credit card. The chips transmit a signal with your card information. Instead of having to swipe your card, you need only place it next to a sensor.
Your enhanced drivers license and passport also include RFID chips.
The problem? Thieves can acquire the technology to scan your credit cards, and they need only walk by you to read your card. it's known as "electronic pickpocketing."
Our sister station, WTSP, in Tampa, Fla. asked an expert to use a card scanner on cooperating participants walking the street. The expert easily acquired the information, much to the surprise of the cardholders.
"If I just get kind of close to (a person's) back pocket or purse, where ever their wallet is, I can read their credit card numbers, expiration date, actually the whole tracking data," said the security expert, Walt Augustinowicz.
Many Western New Yorkers had no idea their cards could be vulnerable.
"It's way too easy," said a stunned Wieder.
While not a significant problem here, electronic pickpocketing is a serious enough issue to merit alerting consumers, according to law enforcement officials.
The good news? It is extremely easy to protect your cards and licenses by leaving them inside the protect sleeve the DMV and credit card companies often provide. The sleeve prevents scanners from reading the card.
If you don't have a sleeve for your credit card, try asking your bank or your credit card company for one, or you can find them for sale online.
Under federal law, if you happen to become a victim of identity theft involving your credit card, you are liable for no more than $50 if you report the theft within two days of discovering it. If you wait as long as two months, you may be liable for as much as $500.