Beep! You've been robbed: A WAFF 48 News special report

By Mark Thornhill - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Radio frequency identification is technology that's intended to help consumers, but criminals also use it to commit fraud.

The majority of customers swipe their credit and debit cards at the check-out counter. With RFID, more cards will be waved at the point of purchase.

[How RFID works]

Smart cards are loaded with a chip containing all of your personal information which is read instantly by a scanner. It's supposed to speed up transactions, and some people already have these new cards and don't know it.

It's not really new technology, but this new use poses a new danger. Using a hand held scanner, a crook can actually lift your personal information off your cards, even when the cards are tucked away in your wallet or purse.

"In a crowded stadium or something, I could just be walking past someone," said technology expert Walt Augustinoquicz. "They'd never know that I just scanned their data and I'd go home and have hundreds of credit card stripe information on my laptop."

[ID Stronghold]

The scanners can easily be purchased online and hooked up to a computer to download the stolen information.

"It's incredible. You think it's safe in your purse and you don't have to worry about anything like this," said one shopper.

Even with this technology, you can protect your card information from being swiped. Companies offer wallets or sleeves that will block the radio frequencies from reaching your cards.

[RFID protection accessories]

And if you do fall victim to this crime, your financial institution can help you solve the problem.

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