ARMOURCARD, an Australian company dedicated to the prevention of wireless skimming, has revealed Aussies could be losing as much as $439 million a year to ‘Electronic Pickpockets’, following a study into the extent of the criminal activity.
The survey revealed that one in seven Australians (14%) have either been affected themselves or know someone that has been a victim of electronic skimming – a type of credit card fraud, where criminals extract your card details using RFID or NFC technologies.
The report also found a fifth of Aussies (20%) are completely unaware this crime exists.
Tyler Harris, Co-Founder and Director at AMOURCARD, believes that things will only get worse for consumers, if we don’t address this issue proactively.
“Wireless technologies, such as ‘Tap and Go’, have made life easier for shoppers and retailers. However, the same technology has become a target for criminals looking to exploit it for personal gain,” said Harris.
“Anyone with a NFC enabled smartphone can download any number of free apps which turn their phone into a device capable of retrieving personal information and data from ‘tap and go’ cards and ePassports. It is an invisible crime that often goes unnoticed until it is too late.”
The study also revealed the true extent of the crime could be even greater, with Aussie not knowing they have been robbed. Over half (51%) of Australians admitted they wouldn’t notice if small amounts of money went missing from their accounts, with the average Australian adult able to lose $28.49 without noticing. This equates to a potential loot of $519M available to criminals.
“The threat of being robbed $20, $30 or even $100 often isn’t at the top of our minds, but we are all aware that it happens. What is surprising is this is only the tip of the iceberg and consumers are yet to see the threat that lurks below the waterline,” added Harris.
As more items become RFID or NFC enabled – such as Social Security cards, medical cards, library cards, driver’s licenses and national identity cards – the likelihood of being skimmed will increase. These cards contain a lot of personal information and data, which hackers can exploit. This stolen information aids criminals in the profiling of individuals and can lead to identity theft as well as fraudulent fiscal gain.
“We’ve looked at this technology being rolled out across the globe and have found that personal information, such as your name, age, date of birth and address can easily be attached to the RFID or NFC microchips. Access to this information will only aid criminals in stealing your identity. Until the technology is proved 100% safe it only makes sense to protect yourself,” concluded Harris.