CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Do you know what an RFID chip is? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It's a combination of a smart chip and radio frequency reader. It is primarily used to track things.
For example, Walmart uses them to track clothes & other inventory. Your veterinarian can inject one into your pet in case they get lost. Banks and retail stores can insert them into money packs so money can be tracked in the event of a robbery. If you have a new passport or new credit card, you may be carrying an RFID and not know it.
Technology hackers have demonstrated that some credit cards are doing a good job so even if someone is scanning you as you walk by, they will pick up minimum information. But, that is not always the case and sometimes they can pull names, credit card account numbers and expiration dates off contactless credit cards using a scanning device they made or bought off internet auction sites like eBay.
WBTV's Cyber Expert, Theresa Payton, explains why you are still safe but you may have future concerns to be aware of.
YOU ARE STILL PROBABLY SAFE:
Right now, you are probably safe from cybercreeps because:
Technology to read the cards has to be within inches of the card – you would probably notice someone trying to scan your pocket or purse
Still not very scalable – cybercreeps have to scan one card at a time
Most cards have encrypted your account information so if they are scanned the criminal thankfully cannot get much
For now, you are probably okay but since technology always gets faster and cheaper, this could put affordable long distance scanners in the hands of criminals.
Think about how far away you can be these days from :
tool booths and speed passes AND
the tracking tags stuck on clothing to stop shoplifting
If you are concerned, you can buy protective sleeves for your passport and credit cards.
Internet Sources for More Information:
The Federal Trade Commission has held several workshops to help U.S. citizens have a voice in how RFID is used and the desired privacy protections. See: www.FTC.gov
The U.S. Passport Office answers your concerns about privacy and other questions about the RFID chip in the Electronic Passport. See: http://travel.state.gov/passport/faq/faq_1741.html