Electronic pickpocketing: new ways to lose your identity

I read a story on a forum about electronic pickpocketing recently, the basic story is that using RFID technology or radio frequency identification technology someone with a simple hand held scanner can scan your purse or wallet and from that extract your credit or debit card details.

Obviously something that needed a little further investigation as what was being said is that someone walking past me could easily and without my knowledge get my bank details and brought a whole new dimension to the world of card skimming.

This is the video I watched.

Now being the skeptical soul that I am, I was immediately drawn to the fact that the guy who is telling the story is also selling a way to solve it, preying on peoples fears to make money always warrants further digging. Here in the UK, we aren’t really using RFID technology for debit and credit cards, so I guess this at least gives us the opportunity to say we don’t want it. I looked through my purse, not one of my cards has the symbol that suggests RFID is present.

Looking at the video, the scanner has to almost touch the card, certainly it has to get very close before it appears to work. I guess that justifies the selling of RFID wallets.

This article on Snopes suggests that this can only work if people only have one card in their wallet as information becomes garbled if they have more than one.

I’m not overly concerned about the card skimming, the manufacturers will be currently working extra hard to try and curb this. The main concern I have is that RFID is coming into use in a big way with passports and driving licences and I think we should always be careful about allowing products that transmit our data at all.