New technology puts bank information at risk - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New technology puts bank information at risk

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SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA (CNN) - Your credit card may not be as safe as you think it is, and thieves can steal your information - literally right out of your pocket.

It turns out that the technology on smart cards is actually helping thieves take your credit information and they can get into your bank account before you even realize it.

If your card displays a radio symbol, it means that it is sending out a radio frequency identification signal that thieves can exploit.

The cards are designed so you can simply bring them close to an object and purchase it without swiping the card.

All a thief has to do is be anywhere near you.

In addition stealing information from wallets, thieves are also tampering with transaction machinery.

"It's as simple as this chip right here that's been added to one's functioning pin pad," Drew Grainger of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.

Police are seeing a whole new level of cyber crime outside of the internet.

When a merchant's not looking, thieves swap a normal pin pad with an identical looking one that has been customized with a small, extra computer chip.

That chip takes all of the information it receives and broadcasts, via Bluetooth, to a distance of up to 30 feet.

"There is a rogue fraudster in the parking lot monitoring on a laptop live what activities are going on in this pin pad, including your pin number and all of your account information," Grainger said.

"Not only are they monitoring it, they can actually start printing the cards right away."

Police are warning merchants of how fast crime tactics are evolving.

And they're taking action.

To combat a possible card reader switch, Alaina Cloke, an employee of Crush Clothing, showed off the store's bedazzled card reader, decked out in Swarovski crystals.

"It's interesting, you know, because a lot of people say if you put a little sticker on it and stuff, it's easy to replicate. You can go out and buy a sticker and stick it on there and you never know the difference," Cloke said. "This is pretty hard to replicate."

But there are also self-powered card skimmers that thieves place over the bank's card slot so that your card is taken into the machine, the purchase is made, and everything looks normal.

"But as the card slips back through after the transaction is made, all that data is captured on this little device right here, including your pin number," Grainger said.

Cardholders can purchase lead-lined sleeves and wallets to block skimmers from picking up the signals from smart cards.

However, this isn't fool-proof and it ultimately rests with consumers to stay on top of what's going on with their bank accounts and protect sensitive financial information.

Copyright 2011 CNN. All rights reserved.

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