8 ON YOUR SIDE warns Tampa Bay consumers about crowd hacking - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

8 ON YOUR SIDE warns Tampa Bay consumers about crowd hacking

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

What if someone told you a hacker could steal your credit card information just by standing a few feet away from you, never even touching you, or digging into your electronics to steal your data?

Chris Gilpin, a consultant for the National Crime Stop Program, told 8 On Your Side that it could happen.

"It's called pocket surfing, RFID theft or wireless pick-pocketing," he said. "I'm concerned about - if you're protecting your card while you're not using it. That's the most important thing that every one needs to be aware of."

Gilpin says the same technology that allows some people to wave their credit cards in front of a scanner at the store could allow thieves to steal your credit card number.

He warns that hackers can buy a scanner online, modify it and boost the signal.

"They have basically a bubble around them of 20 feet," he said. "Anyone that walks or passes through that bubble, they can read their card information while that card is in that person's wallet."

Gilpin, who is trained by the state of Florida as a victim's advocate for identity theft, has developed a card called the Signal Vault. Put it in your wallet with your card and it's supposed to block the signal.

Simply wrapping your card or cards in aluminum foil, or an empty Altoids mint tin could also work.

Tampa Police detectives are aware of the threat but said they have had no reported instances of it locally. Some people have called into question the threat. Identity Guard, a company which called itself the Resource Center for Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring, had this to say recently:

"The current generation of RFID cards represents not only an ease of use for both the merchant and the card holder, but also an advance in protective technology. Most RFID card now being issued encrypts the cardholder's information. So even if the card is read by a remote scanner, to even access personal information, the scammer must also be able to break the card issuer's encryption code.

Moreover, RFID cards also create a new authentication code for each transaction. Unlike a magnetic stripe card a thief can use over and over until the card is shut down, with a single authentication code it is pretty much a one and done situation for the scammer."

The company also pointed out if a consumer carried two RFID cards, they should carry them together because interwoven information from both will be impossible to separate and decipher.

But Gilpin said since criminals are making billions each year on identity theft, consumers need to stay ahead of what's happening and educate themselves on the issue.

"We see individuals making millions of dollars - easily - every single year and there's very low likelihood of them being caught because they find loopholes," he said.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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