Sunday, May 19, 2013
Electronic Pick-Pocketing Expected To Hit Anchorage
A new kind of identity theft using radio frequency identity technology
ANCHORAGE—We’ve all heard of identity theft, but what about radio frequency identity (RFID) theft?
Police said there are increasingly more cases of RFID theft throughout the country, and Anchorage law enforcement said it's only a matter of time before we start seeing the problem here in Alaska.
“It’s called skimming technology,” said Anchorage Police Department burglary unit’s Detective Sgt. Ron Tidler.
It will make you think twice before walking through crowds
“I protect myself from identity theft by keeping my credit cards and personal information held close, so that means I keep my purses zipped and close to my body if I’m out in public,” said Rosa Meehan, an Anchorage resident.
But now, thieves don't have to touch you or even your card to get what they want.
RFID technology and certain types of credit cards is their tool, Tidler said.
“You see where you have the antenna or the image of the antenna on the card,” he said, pointing at a clear American Express card. “It's energizing the antenna in your card and it's capturing the information from there.”
Thieves don't even have to be close to their victims. Police say the scanners work from at least five feet away.
“We've had some cases where people are not aware of how their information was taken from either the credit card or bank card,” Tidler said. “It’s: ‘How did this person get my information? I didn't use it at that location.’”
Kevin Littleton said it “sounds pretty incredible,” and added, laughing, “How do you know I don’t have a scanner right here?”
Meehan said the news “makes me very nervous because we walk by so many people during the day, it seems like it would be very easy for somebody to pick up information.”
Police say you can you protect yourself and your money by getting a “relatively inexpensive shield”, such as a “metal mesh that goes into your wallet.”