Q&A with Kitt Letcher
Sleeves can shield credit cards
from digital reader pickpockets
Q: I understand the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma offers sleeves for credit cards. What are these, why would someone need one and can anybody have one?
A: The new generation of credit and debit cards come with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that has card data stored on it. These chips then communicate wirelessly to special readers at equipped retail locations that offer the consumer an easy way to make purchases by waving their card in front of a reader at the register. However, anyone armed with a reader could electronically pickpocket and take the data on the card transmitted by the chip without the card owner’s knowledge. Better Business Bureau offers credit card sleeves with a protective lining that blocks this potential threat. BBB has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for more than 100 years, and these sleeves are just another way were helping protect consumers. Credit card sleeves are available for anyone at the downtown Oklahoma City office, 17 S Dewey Ave. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Q: Do you need them for credit cards with a magnetic strip, as well as those, like they have in Europe, with a chip inside? What's the difference?
A: You do not need the sleeves for cards only with a magnetic strip, since they cannot transmit data wirelessly, only for cards with the RFID chip. Cards with the magnetic strip must be swiped manually to make a payment.
Q: Are there certain credit cards consumers simply shouldn't use because of security risks? Some reports advise avoiding cards with a Wi-Fi symbol. What’s that?
A: The overall goal for embedding an RFID chip into not only credit and debit cards, but also passports and other forms of identification, is to consolidate the data we carry around to one easy-to-use location. However, this form of technology comes with the electronic pick-pocketing risk that all consumers should know about. If your credit or debit card has the Wi-Fi symbol, usually three curved lines each larger than the next, then we recommend storing the card in one of our protective sleeves. In addition, consumers can ask their bank to re-issue them a card without this technology. Some companies are researching ways to incorporate a pin number to better protect card users, but until then, it’s best to be aware.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER