New credit cards vulnerable to electronic pickpockets
Published Monday, October 3, 2011 6:23PM PDT
Contactless credit cards have radio frequency chips that let you make a purchase just by waving your card at a terminal. They may be more convenient, but the cards can also give electronic pickpockets easy access to your credit card information.
Forensic investigator Ryan Purita showed us just how easy it is to steal your credit card information with a $50 device purchased online. He can use the simple and inexpensive device to read the radio frequencies embedded in most Canadian credit cards these days. Even he was surprised by how easy it was to become an electronic pickpocket.
"I always knew that you would be able to take the credit card data off of it and until I had it in my hand and actually did it for the first time and saw all the information, essentially the full credit card data, I was actually a bit surprised myself," said Purita.
Many Canadians have these new cards in their wallets and don't even know it. The RF cards have wavy lines or words like PayWave or PayPass on the outside. Instead of punching in a pin or signing a receipt, you simply wave the card at a terminal that reads your credit card information. It's estimated $4 billion worth of purchases will be made this way in Canada by 2013.
That's raising security concerns with technology experts like UBC professor Richard Rosenberg.
"You have to be always vigilant, you cannot relax with these devices. They're convenient, but you pay a price for the convenience," said Rosenberg.
After watching our demonstration, many people we talked to decided the convenience simply wasn't worth the risk.
But banking officials say customers shouldn't worry because the limit on these cards is low, under $100 a day, and the cardholder has zero liability. However, with identity theft on the rise, people we talked to weren't very happy about their information being so easily compromised.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele.