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Criminals can get credit card numbers without taking a wallet

Feb 11, 2011 Brian Bradley

The days of crafty pickpockets reaching into your back pocket or purse may be over now that criminals are gaining a technological edge. According to KSDK-TV, pickpockets can now steal a consumer's financial information or commit identity fraud with a simple device that will pick up the radio signals given off by a credit card or passport embedded with an RFID chip. That means that while a person waits in line to buy a coffee or mail a letter, he or she may become a victim without even knowing it. Armed with a laptop and a wireless signal reader, criminals can obtain one's identity without approaching their target. "It's very scary," Chenyang Lu, a professor in the department of computer science and engineering at Washington University, told KSDK. "When it's radio waves that means I don't physically need to steal your card." The amount of RFID chips in credit cards and passport continues to increase. SMARTRAC, a leading supplier of the technology, implemented the chips in 10 million passports in 2005, and13 million in 2006. Since 2008, 2.7 million passport cards have been issued with RFID technology, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.