With all the buzz about identity theft protection on the computer, many of us forget that the risk doesn’t stop there. Everything from credit cards, university IDs, passports, drivers licences and corporate IDs contain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Why does this matter? Well, criminals have learned that they can purchase devices known as Radio Frequency Readers or Remote Frequency Readers for less than $100.00. These devices can skim your personal info from you without your knowledge.
In a local report on Miami’s WPLG, a rather disturbing report opened many an eye. The WPLG investigative reporter was able to quite easily purchase a Remote Frequency Reader online and then began to see just how easy it would be to steal her co-worker’s personal information. To better show the audience how easy it was, she activated her device and armed it with an audible alarm which would allow the viewers (and her targets) hear an audible signal each time the device was successful in skimming date. Her targets wouldn’t know until it was too late why the reporter’s purse was emitting an annoying beeping noise.
The reporter than proceeded to walk by several unsuspecting co-worker’s desks, each time a beeping noise was heard from her purse. Setting her purse down on another employees desk, the device beeped again. As she passed each co-worker, another beep was heard. Each been indicated that the device had successfully hacked into an unsuspecting target’s private information, all of which the targets believed to be safely stowed away.
Now criminals, won’t actually be activating their devices with audible alarms that warn us that our information has been stolen…it will all happen without us ever noticing a thing. Something else that the reporter informed her audience was that criminals often work in teams. One person will hack your personal information while the other is taking a picture of you on their cell phone. In only a few short seconds, your identity can be stolen from you.
The amount of information that can be stolen in places such as shopping malls, grocery stores, airports and sporting events without anyone being the wiser is just staggering. Imagine the damage that can be done with this kind of stolen data, not to mention the doors that can be opened. If personal information can be stolen from personnel badges and keycards, a thief can simply waltz into protected computers, facilities, campuses and access classified information. Scary, right?
Identity theft prevention is all about retaining our identity, and clearly, it can be a daily struggle in this day and age. Avoiding hackers, data breaches, fraud and scams….we just can’t ignore this latest development in technology. Identity theft prevention depends on our awareness of what is happening in the world around us. The simplicity of days past is gone- no longer do we need to worry only about our wallets and physical possessions.
Skimming has become the new chosen method for criminals to commit identity theft and other such crimes. This makes perfect sense, when you consider that RFID tags are being embedded in everything from new US passports to quick-pay credit cards. Clever crooks have hidden RF readers in carpets, on ATMS and on store shelves. Worse still, anyone- from a cashier to a busboy might be waiting and ready to keep your information once you’ve left the building. If it happens to you, likelihood is, you won’t know about it until the damage has already been done.
Denise Richardson is an author, freelance writer and advocate who educates the public on identity theft protection, identity theft prevention and id theft. She is a Board member of American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public on credit matters. She is founder of http://www.givemebackmycredit.com .