By 2016, it's estimated that one billion radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled credit and debit cards susceptible to electronic pickpocketing will be issued to cardholders, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey.
Acting upon a request by RFID-shielding sleeves and holder retailers Identity Stronghold, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released the Bureau's findings - although 2007 was the last year it recorded data about electronic pickpocketing. Between 2005 and 2007, cases of credit card theft increased by 31 percent, while the number of households victimized by more than one type of identity theft increased 37 percent in the same period. Coincidentally, 2005 was the year that RFID-chipped credit and debit cards were introduced to the general public. "I understand why credit card companies downplay the risks their products pose to cardholders and the boon they present to electronic pickpockets," said Identity Stronghold CEO and founder Walt Augustinowicz. "But I'm baffled by the idea that federal law enforcement agencies can take a more than 30-percent spike in credit card information thefts as their cue to stop collecting data and making current statistics available." Given the rise of smartphone technology and advancements in hackers' software, it can be assumed that electronic pickpocketing hasn't decreased since the DOJ stopped collecting information. In fact, there have already been posts and articles with step-by-step instructions on how to break into someone's Google Wallet account, steal their information and commit fraud using false identity verification. "New smartphone technology allows electronic pickpockets to scan and steal your credit card information simply by getting their phone close to your purse or wallet," added Augustinowicz. Digitriad explains that RFID readers, which can be bought online, allow a hacker access to a person's credit card number and expiration date by simply walking within their immediate vicinity - typically one to four inches. IT Business Edge points out that if somebody finds or steals a phone with Google Wallet installed, they can electronically pickpocket in four steps. They can go into application settings, clear data for Google Wallet, reopen the application and everything that remained on the victim's Google prepaid card is now subject to fraudulent use. Digitriad notes that RFID chips are also integrated into newer passports and electronic toll passes, and can be used as a way for the medical industry to keep track of patients and their medications.