High-Tech Pick Pocketing: Real or Not?

Okay, this video has now been sent to me twice within a 24-hour period. I have looked at it, and upon first glance it makes you do a double take. I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your busy day to review it. It’s worth it. Trust me.


Let me start by saying if I was just your average consumer, after watching this I would be very anxious about getting on a plane, walking though a crowed airport, and traveling with my passport in my pocket to go on vacation for the coming holiday. Forget about walking through the insanely crowded malls having my credit card or debit card swiped a half a dozen times. Consider for a moment how many times you have been bumped, shoved, or pushed in a crowed mall trying to purchase gifts for your loved ones.

This electronic pick-pocketing video highlighting the dangers of RFID (radio frequency identification) has put the industry on alert stating that 140 million people are now at risk. We all know that RFID has truly done a wonderful job of making our lives easier, but this report claims it’s only given crooks the opportunity to rip us off by stealing our identities. The bad guys are now working the crowds stealing our credit information, names, expiration dates, and even our date of birth. Crooks can pickpocket you without even touching you by using RFID.

What I find most compelling about this news report is that no cases of this RFID theft have been reported, and that the RFID companies seem to be ignoring all the scuttlebutt. Why? This story is getting more and more coverage encouraging the average consumer to be even a little bit more paranoid.

So do you really need to be purchasing all these luxury accessories to protect yourself? Perhaps. It is true that beginning a few years back a new style of passports came out containing chips that emit key information that can be read by a scanner. But this is pretty much the type of tag that reads our employee ID access cards, highway toll pass, credit cards, debit cards, and gas cards. I should also mention this is not new. This has been going on for the past several years, but only until this recent video emerged did people start to get a bit unnerved thinking that the contents of their wallets can be read.

Our RFID friends insist all of this data is encrypted and safe. But, this video implies a completely different story for the paranoid. So, as an industry watchdog, I would love to hear from the leaders in the space such as Savi Technology, Aeroscout, RF Code, ThingMagic, Alien Technology, and others. I could just shield my cards in my purse, but I know you have a much better technical answer of our readers. Let’s get the industry talking.

4 comments so far

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peggy Smedley, Peggy Smedley. Peggy Smedley said: High-Tech Pick Pocketing: Real or Not? http://bt.io/GQjC (via @backtype) #rfid [...]

  2. The new RFID credit card technology is designed to make life easier for the consumer but unfortunately this technology also makes it easy for criminals to steal your identity and bank account.
    Organized criminals could collect information from thousands of credit cards at major events and then use this information to clone new credit cards with your details. These cards can then be used for purchases or to create new identities.
    To prevent becoming the victim we should check our statements regularly and carry our credit cards in a wallet that provides RFID protection. I am not sure what we can do about the new passports with RFID.

  3. What surprises me here is the lack of comments by your readers. No one has any thoughts to share on this?

    And what will it mean if/when Near Field Comm adoption accelerates?

    Surely there’s an encryption-enabled solution…?

  4. Information not provided in the clip: % of credit/debit cards with RFID chips. None of my cards have them.