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Stopping Electronic Pick-pocketers - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Stopping Electronic Pick-pocketers

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New technology leads to a new credit card scam. Someone can steal your personal information without ever touching your card. So how can you protect yourself from electronic pick-pockets?

To a thief it's like waving a magic wand; Security experts says pick-pocketing has gone electronic. A simple swipe with a hidden device in his iPad case, and he can steal credit card numbers right out of your wallet.

He tried it on the streets to see what people would say. "That's just so easy it's absurd. Not even a hesitation. You could be a block down by now and I would have never even known," said one man.

Epick-pocketing is made possible due to newer technology allowing you just pass your credit card or wallet over pay terminals. Walt Augustinowicz with Identity Stronghold says, "It's quicker to wave and pay and walk away, but we found it's actually convenient for thieves, very convenient. All we did is hook a battery up to a transmitter so I could show you on my cell phone."

Look for this emblem. A sign you have a frequency identification card or RIFD. Now used by most major credit card companies with about 200 million in circulation.

"You learn ways to protect yourself, like keep your wallet close or even in front pocket or front purse clutched to your arm and now we find that doesn't matter."

Walt Augustinowicz now makes wallets and security sleeves to protect consumers. "They block the radio transmission so the card can never turn on and transmit your information, but the second I pull this card out it will start to read."

You can also make your own sleeve with aluminum foil.

An even greater potential risk is mobile wallet technology. Download the wrong app, throw your phone in your purse, and your own phone could electronically rip off the credit card number in your wallet and email them to thieves halfway around the world.

"So you don't have to be in a crowd anymore, you can be in a cornfield in Iowa and be ripped off."  Agustinowicz says all it takes is a Trojan horse game app, that turns newer smart phones into wireless readers. And it can't be traced.

Augustinowicz says, "There's already millions of phones that can do it."

Credit card companies responding to the story downplayed the risk saying names and security codes are never transmitted. "Do people need to be protected from something that doesn't seem to be a problem?," was the response from Randy Vanderhood with Smart Card Alliance.

Right now there are no official statistics on this specific type of crime, but if it does happen, credit card companies stress their policies insure customers are given a full refund when they are victims of fraud.

And its not just credit cards, newer passports also have this technology putting your personal information at risk.

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