If you haven’t heard of RFID credit cards, you surely will soon. An abbreviation for “Radio Frequency ID,” some credit card issuers are embedding these tiny electronics inside the cards you carry in your wallet.
What’s the benefit? Instead of having to swipe your card every time you make a purchase, you can just wave it.
What’s the drawback? Well, if someone around you is enterprising, they can hack your card, and steal your personal financial information. Here’s how:
1. Get Yourself an RFID Reader
These are available from eBay. Just check here. Currently, you can get one on the famous auction site for the low price of $9.99. Free shipping, too!
2. Find an Unsuspecting Victim
If you’re not well versed in criminal activity, this is probably going to be harder than step one. You’re going to need to get into proximity of your victim, so you can wave the reader near their wallet to properly capture the data that is essentially pouring out.
3. Stay Cool
You need to be cucumber-like in order to pull this off. But don’t worry. Most people don’t understand this technology, and have no idea what you’re trying to do.
4. Get Personal
You need to get the reader into close proximity with the person’s card — within a few inches, if possible. Trying this with a wayward purse is your best bet for the first try. The reader will indicate whether it has been able to collect data via its indicator.
5. Hook Your Reader to a PC
Download the information to steal, sell, or share. You’ll need to use software on your machine to analyze the data.
There are several ways to cash in: order merchandise online using the stolen card, copy the information onto a credit card “blank,” or sell the number to criminals. Just be sure to act quickly: once you make your first fraudulent purchase, you’ve got a limited window of time before the card company shuts it down.
So Why Don’t Credit Card Companies Encrypt This Data?
That’s a great question. While credit card issuers will give you a complex and perfectly sensible response to this question, it’s likely the only reason they’re not encrypting the RFID information is because it’s a lot of work.
Using encryption tools would require them to replace all their existing readers in stores to decrypt that information. That sounds costly and complicated, doesn’t it? For now, your safest bet is to stay away from RFID cards altogether.