Protect your wave-and-pay credit cards

Wave-and-pay credit card

It looks like wave-and-pay credit cards need a little more protection from identity theft than we thought.

Wave-and-pay cards have "radio frequency identification" or RFID chips embedded in them.

That chip provides your personal credit card information when you wave it within a few inches of an RFID-enabled cash register or gas pump.

All of the major credit card companies offer wave-and-pay cards now, touting them as quicker and easier to use than traditional cards that must be swiped.

Do you have an RFID card in your wallet?

Contrary to urban legend, few very have a “four waves” icon printed on them that resemble radio waves.

Visa’s "payWave" cards do.

MasterCards with an RFID chip have “PayPass” marked on the front.

You have to check the fine print on the back of American Express cards to find the ones with "ExpressPay" technology.

As for your risk of ID theft, there are plenty of rumors that merchants can scan your card via security sensors used to thwart shoplifters.

Card issuers say, phooey!

RFID chips are designed to only work when they’re held within a few inches of the terminal. So you can wave it at the register you’re checking out at without worrying your data is being read three aisles over in the grocery store.

But inexpensive portable RFID card readers are popping up in the hands of ID thieves who, if they get close enough on the subway or in a jam-packed line at the store, may be able to steal your info.

As a result, the Nevada Attorney General's office recently issued a warning about "electronic pickpocketing" and recommended that RFID cards be carried in a protective sleeve that blocks radio waves, making it impossible to access the data they carry.

It says you should "contact the issuer to provide a secure sleeve and keep your card inside the sleeve at all times when you are not using it."

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