Digital pickpocketing – keep your credit cards safe

Digital pickpocketing, a modern twist on traditional pickpocketing, involves stealing personal information from credit cards, passports, and other documents that are RFID-enabled, without any physical contact. This method exploits the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology used in many modern cards.

How Digital Pickpocketing Works:

  1. RFID Technology: Many cards have RFID chips that allow for contactless payments. These chips store personal information, such as your name, card number, and expiration date.
  2. RFID Readers: Digital pickpockets use portable RFID readers that can easily be purchased. These readers, when in close proximity to an RFID-enabled card, can wirelessly extract information from the card.
  3. Stealth Operation: This type of theft can happen in crowded places, like public transport or shopping areas, without you even realizing it. The thief only needs to be a few inches away from your wallet to capture the data.

How to Keep Your Cards Safe:

  1. RFID-Blocking Wallets/Purses: These contain materials that interfere with radio waves, thus blocking the RFID signal. This is one of the most effective ways to protect your cards.
  2. RFID Sleeves: If you don’t want to change your wallet or purse, you can use RFID-blocking sleeves to encase your cards. These are often inexpensive and can fit into your current wallet.
  3. Being Mindful in Crowds: While the actual risk of digital pickpocketing is considered low, it’s wise to be cautious in crowded places. Keep your wallet in a secure pocket or a bag that closes securely.
  4. Checking for Unauthorized Transactions: Regularly check your bank statements for any unauthorized transactions, and set up alerts for any unusual activities on your accounts.
  5. Using Cards Without RFID: If you’re particularly concerned, you can opt to use cards without RFID technology. Not all cards are RFID-enabled.
  6. Contactless Payment Apps: Using mobile payment apps on your phone can be more secure than physical cards since they often require additional authentication (like a fingerprint or a passcode) and do not transmit your actual card number during transactions.
  7. Covering Passport with RFID Shield: For passports with RFID chips, consider using an RFID-blocking cover, especially when traveling.

It’s important to note that while digital pickpocketing is technically possible, the incidence rate is relatively low compared to other forms of credit card fraud. However, taking these precautions can add an extra layer of security, offering peace of mind in an increasingly digital world.