New wallet or tinfoil? It’s your choice…

There are new credit card scams sweeping the planet, and unfortunately they’re terribly simple. New payment technology makes buying your daily coffee a breeze, but unfortunately it also makes more nefarious goals easier than ever. Bad guys can steal your credit card info, or charge your credit card just by being near you, and there’s really only one way to stop it. Yeah – just being near someone on the subway could be all it takes…

RFID and NFC

Credit card companies, merchants and consumers can all agree – faster transactions are better transactions. Get rid of clunky signatures and everything else that slows down the latte line or makes simple moves a hassle. To achieve this, banks are moving toward contactless payment solutions and phone manufacturers are introducing digital wallets. All of these things are nearly entirely positive – except they make it easier than ever to steal your info or charge you money.

Bad Apps, Bad Apples

Recent reports highlight an emergence of easily acquired apps which can read your contactless card data, instantly mining your credit card number and expiration date, just by being in proximity to the card. Think: busy tourist areas, on the train, at concerts, bars – you get the gist. There are also people using contactless card machines to stealthily charge up to $50 to your card, while it sits in your pocket. This type of fraud is easier than ever to achieve thanks to these new cards, but banks make more money with faster transactions, so it’s not a primary concern.

Your Best Defense

No one wants to be abroad (or anywhere) and have their account closed down, stranded without card access, all because their information was compromised. There are two solutions. In tests run by fraud prevention groups, chunky women’s handbags or purses proved very effective to create enough distance between the card and people attempting to access it. But to ensure safety, you can take things a step further. Many wallets or card holders now offer RFID blocking technology. In all truth, lining your wallet with tinfoil works just the same, but you may lose a few fashion points! The lining keeps the electronics in the card(s) from being accessed, unless taken out of the sleeve or wallet. A simple Amazon search is a good start.

Good to know, right?