Some Sanity—At Last—Regarding Credit-Card Skimming

Just when I think the mainstream media is incapable of writing anything objective about RFID, The New York Times reports that there are no instances of credit-card information being stolen due to the cards having an RFID transponder in them.
Published: January 25, 2015

I read a lot of entertaining stories about radio frequency identification technology in the mainstream media. Most are factually incorrect, and sometimes they’re absurd. It’s so much easier to write a compelling article when you can dispense with the facts. So I was surprised when The New York Times published a post on its Gadgetwise blog, titled Peace of Mind, From a Dubious Threat.

The article discusses the latest wallet designed to protect consumers from having their credit-card information skimmed via the RFID transponder in a credit card. The writer, Roy Furchgott, explains that sellers of such products are engendering fear that criminals will scan your wallet and steal your card information without your knowledge. He points out that there is scant evidence that this is a real problem. In fact, he writes, “The Identity Theft Resource Center, which tracks electronic thievery, said it had seen no reported cases of RFID-based identity or credit-card theft.”

Furchgott adds that it it’s not easy to create a receiver that could read a transponder from “even a few feet away.” Entrust, a firm that works with secure identity technology, “had to build a suitcase-size receiver to do it,” he writes. “And if a thief really has a suitcase-size reader and is sitting two feet from a cash register, your wallet won’t help you because you have to take the card out of the wallet to use it.”

Will this end all of these stories about people stealing credit cards with a wave of an RFID reader? I doubt it.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.