KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Thanks to smarter technology, the possibility of hackers gaining access to your credit and debit card information is once again a reality
In some cases, hackers can compromise your information without even touching your wallet.
“It’s chilling to say someone can walk up behind me and steal my credit card information right off of me unknowingly,” said Frank Sereno, a victim of fraud.
On Friday, Sereno said he was notified of fraudulent charges on his account after visiting a QuikTrip near 72nd Street and Wornall Road.
“While I was on the phone with the fraud people, they were seeing the transactions,” Sereno said.
Someone had compromised Sereno’s account and was making purchases at restaurants and shops in California.
“She was reading one after another and I said, ‘No, none of those are mine. I haven’t used my card outside of Kansas City,’” he recalled.
Coincidentally, Sereno had seen a similar post online about a suspected skimming incident at the same location. He talked to a store technician who didn’t find anything.
“He went right to the card reader and said that there wasn’t a skimmer there," he said. "He also confirmed that he couldn’t find a skimmer at the pumps.”
Sereno said the technician suggested maybe someone had used a portable skimmer and stole his information right off him.
It was a frightening realization for Sereno but not unheard of to security experts.
“Portable skimmers can use a technology similar to what we use with near field communication devices,” said Ryan Mckeel, regional director of operations at Security Equipment Inc. in North Kansas City. “Some hackers actually use the NFC technology in our cellphones, and they’re able to read that card data just being within proximity of a person.”
Mckeel compared the process to how you would gain access to a building using a key card reader. He said one doesn’t always have to make physical contact in order to gain access. The two devices could be inches away from each other.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to have a device that is laid on or overlaid on a machine to get that information,” Mckeel said. “It could be inches or within a couple of feet depending on how strong the actual skimmer is."
Mckeel recommends investing in RFID-blocking wallets and purses to protect your information.
“It’s more of a metallic type of layer that will keep that information from being passed through your wallet or purse,” Mckeel said.
It’s an added layer of protection Sereno bought the day after his information was compromised.
“I don’t know how they do it, but if they can do it, I want to take the precaution,” Sereno said.
RFID wallets cost between $10 and $20. Another trick you can use to protect your credit and debit cards is to put tin foil inside your wallet.