Friday, January 7, 2011

Electronic Pickpocketing

A few members have contacted the credit union about national news media stories on the issue of "electronic pickpocketing" and concerns over data theft. For those who have not heard about electronic pickpocketing, it is basically theft of data from a plastic card that possesses a RFID (radio frequency identification) chip. The RFID chip sends out a short wave radio signal so that merchant readers can receive the signal and authorize transactions on the card without the need for a physical swipe of the card. Scammers have realized that a cheap portable card reader could be used to obtain someones card information while the card is still secured in the person's wallet or purse. In a crowded mall or shopping area, someone could be standing within a few feet and electronically obtain some of the card information. There are a multitude of videos online that demonstrate this type of data theft. The card number and expiration dates can be stolen with this type of technology.

North Alabama Educators Credit Union does not utilize RFID chips with our VISA Debit Cards. The VISA Credit Cards issued through our partner Elan also do not utilize RFID technology. As a result, there is no threat of data theft from electronic pickpocketing on our member cards.

It is important to note that the 3-digit security code on the back of cards cannot be obtained via electronic pickpocketing. The majority of Internet transactions with a credit or debit card would require the correct 3-digit security code to complete a transaction. For those who do possess cards with an RFID chip there are special protective card sleeves available that would block transmission of the short wave signal.

Regardless, it is still unnerving to say the least that someone could electronically steal card information from your wallet or purse just by standing close by.

Again, North Alabama Educators Credit Union does NOT utilize RFID technology for either our debit or credit cards.

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