A new kind of potential thievery is on the rise: criminals who can steal your credit card data by walking by you with electronic scanners, maybe even with their mobile phones. It's easy, however, to protect yourself.
The new threat exists because of the radio-frequency identification chips (RFID) or Near Field Communication (NFC) chips that are starting to be embedded in credit and debit cards. A modern thief can use this "swipe to pay" technology to capture your info by scanning your wallet or purse with an electronic scanner.
It's not as easy for electronic pickpockets to get your wallet, however, as simply bumping into you, the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch explains. The thief would have to hold the scanner next to your wallet or purse, unmoved for about 30 seconds, so you'd probably notice it -- unless you were distracted or left your belongings unattended for such a time.
This video shows how thieves can get credit card info from a Barclays contactless credit card in the UK with an NFC-enabled mobile phone:
The good news is foiling electronic scanners is simple. You have two easy solutions. According to MarketWatch:
If you have two cards with RFID chips in your wallet, the scanner can't read them because they confuse the information and cancel each other out. [...]
If you're still worried about getting ripped off by someone invading your space with a notepad-like scanner, here's a tried-and-true precautionary move: Put a piece of aluminium foil in your wallet.
Or you could go whole hog and make your own RFID-shielded wallet.
How to foil electronic pickpockets [MarketWatch]