It’s hard to deny the convenience of tap-and-go technology, but that simplicity also makes the lives of hackers a whole lot easier.
The ability to just tap your card for purchases under $100 streamlines the shopping experience, but this convenience is a two-edged sword – criminals have cottoned on and created RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) hacking devices that exploit this simplicity.
RFID is the technology payment systems use to ‘read’ your details during a purchase. Hackers’ payment devices will ‘skim’ your card (cause a transaction to go through) when placed close enough to it; denim and leather are no barrier whatsoever.
Not only do these devices net hackers money from the initial fraudulent transaction, but they also retain your card details for further purchases. The reason for this is that while some card data is encrypted when transmitted, the card number and expiry date is not. So, once skimmed, your card number and expiry date can be used for multiple purchases (under $100).
In 2016, Australians lost $521 million to card fraud and this figure is only expected to grow. This statistic makes it clear that this is no idle threat, so it is important to be aware of the issue and how to best prevent it from happening.
Skimming is so inconspicuous that many victims rarely notice in time.
Prevention is, of course, better than a cure and there are two key ways to prevent card skimming, depending on the size of your wallet – so to speak. One is to buy an RFID-blocking wallet which shields electromagnetic fields and prevents scanners from communicating with your cards. These wallets can get a little pricy though, so a more economical option is to line your wallet with aluminum foil. This common household good, if put in your wallet will also block signals from RFID hacking devices.
Another way to minimise your exposure to these types of attacks is to keep a close eye on your accounts to ensure there are no suspicious charges. By remaining vigilant, you can notify both your bank and the police in a timely manner. This not only limits the amount of money the hackers can steal, but it also gives police a better chance at apprehending the skimmers.
I would be interested to hear from you, how you went on convincing your wife to coat the interior of her Chanel bag with aluminum, while I’m still getting over my black eye.