Credit card fraud has been a problem from the moment the first credit card was issued. In fact, the results of Gallup’s annual crime poll show that over two-thirds of respondents cited credit card fraud as one of their main fears. Amazingly, respondents ranked their fear of credit card fraud well above their fear of burglary, mugging and even acts of terrorism.
Over the years, protective measures such as PIN numbers have helped to reduce the likelihood of being a victim of fraud. While PIN numbers and I.D. checks have helped to reduce fraud, they have done little to alleviate it entirely. In fact, a new kind of credit card fraud is on the rise.
Advances in both RFID (radio-frequency identification) and NFC (near field communication) payment protocols have made it easier than ever for thieves to steal your credit card info. Most modern credit cards have a RFID or NFC chip embedded within the card. While both technologies make it easier for consumers to make purchases, it also makes it easier for thieves to steal your information.
Thieves equipped with an electronic scanner or smartphone application can exploit the “swipe to pay” technology in your credit card in as little as 30 seconds. In 2012, over 13 million ‘contactless’ credit cards released to customers by London-based Barclay’s were susceptible to being compromised by nothing more than an NFC-enabled smartphone running a custom application.
More recently, credit card breaches at major retailers like Home Depot and Target have brought attention to the fact that our credit cards are not as safe as we once believed. Luckily, there are a few simple ways that you can reduce the probability of falling victim to credit card fraud.
Ways to Protect Yourself
The simplest method to protect yourself from RFID fraud is to carry multiple RFID-enabled credit cards in your wallet. The majority of off-the-shelf scanners used by thieves cannot discern between the RFID information emitted by multiple cards. According to MarketWatch, when faced with data coming from multiple sources, many scanners will get confused and cancel out the data.
Another way to protect yourself against electronic credit card fraud is to carry a wallet that blocks both RFID and NFC communications. For example, a fraud-resistant credit card sleeve is an inconspicuous, inexpensive way to protect your cards. Those looking for a travel wallet would do well with something the elleven Traverse RFID Travel Wallet.
Even with new advances in security being developed every day, there is no magic bullet that will protect you entirely from the risk of credit card fraud. Always keep a watchful eye on your monthly credit card statements for any suspicious charges. Many modern thieves will use your card for small, everyday purchases that they hope will fly under the radar. So be careful when looking over your statement, even small charges could be signs of fraud.
As always, if you suspect that you have been the victim of fraud, contact your credit card company immediately. Most fraudulent charges can be reversed without much hassle, assuming you stay vigilant and keep track of your statements.