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INSIDE EDITION Investigates Electronic Pickpocketing

INSIDE EDITION Investigates Electronic Pickpocketing


Airdate: 02/23/2011

It's old fashioned pick pocketing with a high tech twist.  A way for would be thieves to steal your personal information without ever laying a hand on you or your wallet.

It's called electronic pickpocketing and security expert Walt Augustinowicz says relatively new technology designed to make your purchases more convenient could put your credit card number at risk.

In a mall in New York City, Augustinowicz showed INSIDE EDITION's Paul Boyd  how it can happen.  In a matter of seconds, he effortlessly pickpockets four unsuspecting shoppers without ever laying a finger on their purses or wallets.

Boyd approached one female shopper and said, "What if I told you in that split second that he bumped into you he stole one of your credit cards?"

"I wouldn't believe you," she replied.

When he told her that she was carrying a Mastercard and read her the entire number and expiration date, she was stunned.  

"Wow. How did you do that?" she asked.

Believe it or not, all it takes is a simple credit card reader, which Augustinowicz had hidden inside an inconspicuous pouch.  The device is used everywhere these days in the normal course of business at drug stores, fast food chains and even in the back of taxis.

It's possible  due to a technology called radio frequency identification or RFID, and you may not even know you have it. All the major credit card companies now put out cards with special symbols on the back indicating you no longer have to swipe your card – simply wave it near a card reader at checkout and Presto! Instant payment.

Convenient, yes, but Augustinowicz says the technology is a dream come true for theives because the crime is virtually untraceable. His company, Identity Stronghold, makes a sleeve that protects consumer's cards  from this high-tech pickpocketing.

Shoppers we approached had no idea they had just been ripped off until Boyd revealed their credit card numbers to them.

"He just stole your credit card and you had no idea," Boyd said to one shopper.

Shocked, she said, "It's frightening, very frightening."

The major credit card companies insist that their cards are secure because of multiple built-in security features, and that your name and address are protected. But we wanted to check that out. Could we actually buy something with an electronically pickpocketed card?

Boyd electronically picked off an INSIDE EDITION producer's credit card and with his permission, went shopping.

It was almost too easy. Using a fraudulent name and address, Boyd had no problem ordering a $30 sweatshirt over the phone from a major retailer.

But would the bogus transaction get flagged? Apparently not. Just a few days later the package arrived.  And it didn't cost Boyd a dime.

So how do you know if your card may be at risk?  Not every credit card can be electronically hijacked - only cards with special symbols indicating they have RFID technology.  

The credit card companies told us their customers are not responsible for any fraudulent charges and will replace cards for any consumer that doesn't want this feature.
 


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