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New age of information theft reveals opportunities for alternative credit business

Feb 03, 2013 Dave King

New age of information theft reveals opportunities for alternative credit business

Anthony Johnson comes from a class of thieves that is quickly dying out. The 49-year-old is facing a year and a half behind bars after being convicted of both identity theft and using credit cards he snagged out of unsuspecting women's purses as he squirmed under their feet in dark movie theaters, according to Forbes.

While this type of direct theft is still a legitimate concern for credit card holders, it is more easily preventable than the sorts of crimes that can be committed with new technology.

A nearly-invisible threat

"Skimmers" have gotten press recently as a popular and convenient way for thieves to steal card information by mounting a chameleon piece of equipment into any ATM machine.

Brian Krebs is an expert in tech security and editor who describes the rogue technology of a skimmer. “It's essentially a plastic device that fits over the card acceptance slot,” he says, “and it's made to record the data that's stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card.”

With this type of threat made public, people who have never considered alternative credit methods in the past may begin to do so. The threat to credit card security only grows with time in congruence with technology. ATM skimmers are more advanced than the skills of a traditional pickpocket but, still, not even close to the ways in which personal information could be stolen in the very near future.

The good guys answer
Major companies are getting ahead of the tech underbelly by developing features within their products that can protect consumers from identity theft. Apple's iPhone 6 is rumored to come with fingerprint recognition technology installed.  KGI Security's Ming Chi Kuo, an analyst of the tech organization, predicts the recognition device will be a part of the iPhone 6 screen-face. Over $350 million was spent on Apple's acquisition of AuthenTech, a fingerprint technology company, last summer, according to The Huffington Post.

Tech privacy firms are getting in on the information protection business as well. Lookout, a mobile security firm, has developed an app for Android called Lock Cam. This program takes a picture through it's user-facing lens when the handler fails three password-entry attempts in a row and immediately sends the image to the owner via email. Thanks to geo-locating services, the victim is also alerted of the thief's whereabouts. Credit card holders and fans of mobile payment can rejoice - as well as alternative credit businesses - knowing the good and the bad should stay at consistently even levels as technology booms.