There was a time when skimming meant sneaking the cream off the top of the milk before Mum noticed, or skilfully aiming pebbles into a pond, to see how many times they would bounce before sinking. Sadly, skimming is now another type of “art form”, and includes the practice used by electronic pickpockets to steal your card data without even touching you, your wallet or your card. The technology that allows us the convenience of using contactless payment can also be used by thieves using an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) device to intercept your data and then use it for their own purposes. Often, the first thing you know about it is when your bank contacts you to inform you that they have detected fraudulent activity on your account or – worst case scenario – you bank account has been emptied.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, advice suggests you try placing all your contactless cards close to each other, to confuse any device. If you usually put your wallet in your rear pocket, move it to the front – you’re more likely to notice someone in front of you. Changing your wallet to one with an RFID shield in it is another solution – or you can buy a shield card, which is about the same size as a credit card, and which you place in your wallet. The very latest shield cards draw energy from the credit card scanner to create an electronic field, thus making your contactless cards invisible to the scanner.
Inevitably, criminal minds will always be working hard to find new ways to steal, but it’s reassuring to know that there are effective measures out there that can help to stop your card data being skimmed.