Are You Protecting Your Credit Card Information the Right Way?

December 08, 2014

Credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and other payment cards might look the same as they ever have but the technology that makes use of these items has advanced considerably. Today’s payment cards are much more sophisticated and include convenient features such as RFID chips. These chips make it possible to use “tap to pay” technology, which speeds checkout and other transactions. Consumers need to be smart about using and storing these important cards. Just as the technological infrastructure that makes use of payment cards has changed a great deal, so have the risks to your personal financial information.

 

Protecting Credit Cards Is Not New

 Consumers have been generally aware of the need to protect their cards. However, most people believe that protecting their payment cards from physical harm, such as theft, is enough. Though protecting your cards from theft and physical damage is very important, the information contained on the card is actually much more valuable and has the potential to cause greater damage to your financial well-being. In the past it was common practice for banks and credit card companies to issue small paper sleeves to protect the magnetic strips on payment cards; these strips contain coded information that make the card valid. It is possible for strong magnets and electromagnets to disrupt this code. This is why storing electromagnetic devices near your payment cards, driver’s license, electronic pass cards, and even your passport can be so problematic. If you are in the habit of carrying your cell phone and wallet in the same pocket or next to each other in your purse, make a change. There is never a good time to discover that your credit card or driver’s license is invalid.

New Technologies Bring New Threats

The next big advancement in payment card technology is the RFID chip. This chip is not as vulnerable as magnetic strips are but there are certain things that consumers should be aware of:

  • A card with an RFID chip is vulnerable to virtual pickpocketing. This crime involves the use of an RFID scanner held by a thief. Once the thief is close enough to a card, the scanner can pick up the chip’s information. No contact with the card is necessary, only proximity.
  • Illegal access to a card is virtually undetectable. RFID-enabled payment cards will automatically activate in the presence of an appropriate scanner so there is nothing that the card owner can do to prevent the breach of information. Several people in a crowd can be hit by the same pickpocket without knowing that their data has been stolen.
  • Prevention is the best protection against this kind of data theft. Since detecting the theft of your personal financial information is all but impossible, your best defense against this kind of crime is to block the incoming scans directed by criminals.

Solutions for Modern Crime

Just as technology gives criminals new ways to take advantage of people, modern engineering also provides solutions to help people fight back. The Stealth Card is one modern solution to this emerging form of theft. All you need to do is add one Stealth Card to your wallet or purse and you will prevent the downloading of personal financial information from your RFID payment cards. This is one of the most effective tools of credit card protection there is.