Every Tuesday, Smithee presents an article about his own experiences with credit cards and observations about the credit card industry.
A few weeks ago I was the victim of debit card fraud. In my case the system worked very well. The bank’s automatic mechanisms noticed a few big-ticket items being purchased in Chicago, which is quite far from where I live. The first one went through, the second one was held up and I started getting calls from the bank’s fraud detection department.
So, that card number had to be canceled and I got a replacement with a new number within a few days. The money was also refunded, but the surprise came when I noticed the new card had that little “PayPass” logo on it. You know, the thing that’s supposed to let you tap the card against a reader instead of sliding it through the reader? (Think of the time saved!) The old one didn’t have PayPass on it, and I was ambivalent about the technology, having read reports about how it’s not all that much faster.
The bigger problem is that it uses RFID, which is not exactly ready for prime time. To make a long story short, people can easily, and cheaply, extract the data from your card without you knowing. Here’s a video with a demonstration:
Interesting side note: Mythbusters was going to do a show about this, before the idea was quashed.
Published or updated December 30, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.