No-Swipe Credit Cards Pose Risk Says Senator

Credit cards that use RFID signals to conduct transactions could put consumers at risk for identity theft and credit card fraud, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY said in a press conference Sunday.

Schumer said thieves can use radio frequency readers to steal the credit card information.

“All you need to be is within a couple of feet of the customer,” Schumer said. “You may as well put your credit card information on a big sign on your back.”

Don’t worry, a thief would actually have to have a reader nearly touching your credit card to steal it. This is completely impossible, which is why no one has been able to invent pickpocketing. — BEN POPKEN

Consumers warned about no-swipe credit cards [AP]

No-Swipe Credit Card No Problem For Thieves
Foil RFID Thieves. Literally.
Long-Distance RFID Snagging Possible, Already Done


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  1. ElPresidente408 says:

    There was a NY Times article back in Oct (not available for free online) where two researchers were able to get the RFID information off credit cards in the mail. They built the device out of mostly Radio Shack parts. The CC companies responded saying all the information is encrypted, but their device showed the CC# mixed in with the encrypted data.

    While you’d have to be practically on top of someone to swipe the info in a store, makes me wonder if someone with access to the mail can just collect a ton of numbers.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Here’s the article you mention (no sub required).

  3. loraksus says:

    Putting the credit card in your microwave oven for 2-3 seconds will nuke (pardon the pun) pretty much any RFID chip. I don’t know what effect it will have on the magnetic stripe – although they can take a licking, 1200W is a lot of power.

    Anyone care to test?

  4. weave says:

    I was in UK this summer it seems everyone there uses “chip and pin” cards. Cards have some sort of chip in them, you stick one end into a terminal and punch in a pin.

    I was in one restaurant and the waitress had no idea how to just swipe my American card, just kept sticking it into the chip and pin machine and saying it wasn’t working.

    I mentioned this to the lady that ran the bed and breakfast and she laughed, said she must have been under 20. She also told me they are having some big problems with fraud of chip and pin cards there too.

    Anecdotal at best, but I found it interesting.

  5. thrillhouse says:

    Now, the question is, Mr. Schumer, will you actually step up and do something about this? Or is the credit card lobby once again too strong to let good sense prevail?

  6. chemman says:

    Why didn’t Mr. Schumer step and and say anything earlier this year when the government made it madatory for all passports issued starting next year to RFID tags? Apparently, RFID is safe enough to be used in passports but not CC’s? I ran out and renewed my passport now to avoid getting an RFID one for as long as possible.