So I’m out to dinner with a professional speaker whose name I’ll drop so that you’ll be impressed. Larry Winget. Larry is the Pitbull of Personal Development and he’ll probably kill me for not putting a trademark after that title, because he owns it. If you have somebody in your life (kid, employee, boss) that doesn’t take responsibility for the life they lead and the work they’re supposed to do, Larry’s your man. Google his name and find out, or go to LarryWinget.com.
But back to my story. I treated Larry to dinner in Phoenix because I owe him a thousand meals for the coaching he gives me and we’re leaving the table when his wife (who is much nicer than Larry) asks if I’ve taken my credit card out of the folder. Nope. God I hate when that happens! Small oversight for someone who lives and breathes security and privacy. I left my card in the folder, on the table and was fully prepared to leave the restaurant!
There are complete industries built around collecting, massaging and selling your data – your name, phone number, address, spending patterns, net worth, the age of your children, the magazines you buy, etc. Companies buy bits of your privacy so that they can knowledgeably market products to you that you are likely to purchase.
To minimize the amount of your personal information bought and sold on the data market, begin “opting out”. Opting out is the process of notifying organizations that collect your personal information to stop sharing it with other organizations. “Pre-approved” credit card offers (i.e., financial junk mail) are a major source of identity theft. Those mailers give thieves an easy way to set up credit card accounts in your name without your consent. They spend money on the card and default on the balance, leaving you with the mess of proving that you didn’t make the purchases. The solution is to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit, home loan and insurance offers as well as mass marketing databases.
The typical US consumer still swipes their card, credit or debit, with those same old black magnetic stripes. And, we hold our breath and hope they work, and don’t lead to erroneous (fraudulent) charges we have to defend. The rest of the world has switched to Smart cards, according to Peter Svensson, The Associated Press, in The Denver Post. “The problem with that black magnetic stripe on the back of your card is that it’s about as secure as writing your account information on a post-card”.
Svensson comments “Smart-cards (chip-based cards) can’t be copied, which greatly reduces the potential for fraud. Smart cards with built-in chips are the equivalent of a safe: They can hide information so it can be unlocked only with the right key”.
We can be as patriotic as we want to be, but today, the US lags behind other countries in credit card technology and consumer safety. Our current-day magnetic-strip technology is archaic compared to the chip-embedded cards of our European counterparts. Though some larger US retailers are offering support of the “smart-chip” cards, a mandate for their use (and greater protection for the consumer) is down the road. (Click here for the original story on NPR).
John appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to set the facts straight about the real and perceived risks posed by Electronic PickPocketing.
It is true that Identity Thieves are able to steal your credit card information without even touching your wallet. The technology exists, is readily available and can be assembled for under $1,000. But that doesn’t necessarily make it an efficient means of stealing credit card numbers.
RFID, or radio-frequency identity technology was introduced to make paying for items faster and easier. All major credit cards that have this technology have a symbol (pictured below). It means that your card can communicate via electromagnetic waves to exchange data (your credit card number) between a terminal and a chip installed inside of your card (or passport). Thus, by getting within a few inches of your credit card, a thief is able to obtain your credit card number, expiration date and maybe your name.