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Senator Charles Schumer Warns on RFID Credit Cards

by Peter Andrew
Senator Charles Schumer Warns on RFID Credit Cards

Radio frequency identification (RFID) credit cards are continuing to make enemies. This past Sunday it was New York senator Charles Schumer holding a press conference on a Manhattan street to warn consumers that RFID credit cards will put them at increased risk of identity theft. “You may as well put your credit card information on a big sign on your back,” said Schumer.

Radio frequency credit cards, also called “no swipe” cards, use radio frequency to allow cards to be read by special equipment without the card ever being swiped through a traditional card terminal. The debate over the cards centers around whether thieves can easily manufacture their own card readers to steal numbers from unsuspecting credit card customers. The credit card industry says there is already a level of encryption that protects the credit card data, but Schumer says it is not enough and that card companies should be disclosing “the known weaknesses of the technology” to consumers that get the cards.

While Schumer didn’t offer examples of consumers who’d had their credit card numbers stolen via faked RFID readers, an experiment at the University of Massachusetts in October demonstrated that certain credit cards were not encrypted as advertised and could be easily read by a cheaply-made reader. At the time, at least one industry spokesperson said the demonstration could not be duplicated in real-world conditions.

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