‘They Were Right After All About Chipped Debit Cards Being More Vulnerable’

by on January 22, 2019 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

The Old Broad Found Out How You Can Protect Your Account

Yesterday my friend came to me in tears and confusion. She had gone to pay her T-Mobile bill and her debit card was rejected. She couldn’t understand why that was because she had ample money in her account.

She called her credit union to find out why it was rejected, and they told her that she, along with 1000 other people, had their accounts breached on January 14th, and a letter telling her how to reinstate her account had been sent to her post office box. The trouble was that she had not yet picked up her mail at the post office.

They told her that if she came in they would issue her a new debit card on the spot. She was so upset I asked her if she would like me to drive her to the credit union – I bank at the same one – and she quickly said “yes.”

Because we both bank at the same institution, I  was interested in going in with her to find out why her card was compromised and mine wasn’t.  I was not prepared for what they had to say and I’d like to share it with you, because the problem is wide-spread.

Does your credit card/debit card have a chip? Remember how they said that when these cards came out they would be much safer than the ones without them? That, my friends, is “b.s.” – according to people at the institution – because one of the most scariest “high-tech” crime has  evolved.  The crooks can steal your credit card information without ever touching you, or any place you may put your credit card – in a new method that is called “electronic pick-pocketing” (or some call it crowd hacking.)

And according to the people who explained it all, this is how it works:

You have a chipped credit card.  That chip can be scanned at stores and restaurants all over the world.  Currently there are over 250 million chipped cards just in the United States.

The thieves have very powerful scanners and they can steal your information right through the air.  They can walk by you while you are eating in a restaurant and get the information right out of your purse or wallet from 25 feet away.  You will have no idea until you see the bills piling up.  In a investigative report done in Houston by their Channel 2 television station, the reporter went with a “thief” and within 15 minutes captured credit card numbers from 39 people.  They never spoke to them; they never made eye contact with them; they just focused on where the credit card was being held.

The question that I have asked and have not received a satisfactory answer is if in my friend’s case she has to use a “Pin” number to have the transaction go through, how did the thief access her account without the Pin number? Or did he/she get it in some other manner? This has not been answered.  The next question I asked was ‘how do you prevent it?’

This was the answer I received:

There is a new device called “Signal Vault”.  It looks just like an ordinary plastic credit card, but it forms an electronic safety shield around all of the credit and debit cards in your wallet.  Gilpin, the originator of the device says “it’s like a bulletproof vest for your credit cards.”  It sells for under $15 and I imagine it is available all over the internet.

I have not seen one; nor do I know of anyone that has one, but I do know that I have several credit cards with the chip that now make me vulnerable.

You can also protect your chipped credit cards, according to the financial people, by using an aluminum wallet, or simply wrapping your credit cards in aluminum foil.  (I think that would be a real pain, but it is one way to go.)

I think it is interesting to note that when the chipped credit cards first came out my credit union said they were not going to use them because they thought that made them more vulnerable.  I am not sure when they changed, because it was almost a year before I received my first chipped card.  Looks like they were right after all.

And by the way, my friend had the money that was taken out of her account reversed and put back in.  That was a relief, but what about the other 999 people, and all the subsequent people after that.

So this is just a warning, people.  Hope it helps keep your money in your account – not in someone else’s.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan Michael Sauer January 22, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Take my advice- everyone should have a fraud alert filed with the 3 credit bureaus. Southern California, Southern Florida, and the greater Houston area are the 3 worst areas in the country for credit and debit card fraud and identity theft. I’ve worked for 20 years for the Superbanks in fraud control ( still doin it) , and it far worse than I have ever seen it before. Always check your statements thoroughly for any irregularities. Some people never check and fraud goes on for years.


judi curry January 22, 2019 at 2:43 pm

Out of curiosity I went to Amazon to see what they offered in the way of the shield I spoke about in the article. There are several listed at a variety of price ranges. The one I purchased you just put with your credit card and it creates a shield around the cards. I bought several – one to give to my daughters and my friend, and I will use two of them – one in the front of my credit cards and one in the back. I paid approximate $7 for each.


Peter from South O January 22, 2019 at 5:39 pm

The idea that your chip and PIN debit card is vulnerable to wireless hacking is alarmist and not at all factual. The chip in a debit card does not emit RF radiation. All of the gadgets to protect against such attempts are aimed at cards that have an RFID antenna (they are advertised as just having to be waved at a terminal to make a connection). One example of this technology is the Compass Card bus pass, and there were some AMEX cards that were initially issued with this capability, but that’s years old news.
Statistics show that since chip and PIN (more properly called EMV for the three companies that wrote the specification) has been implemented in the USA and Canada fraud rates have dropped dramatically.


Judi curry January 22, 2019 at 7:08 pm

All I can do is report what I was told by the institution that gave me the credit card. Thank you for the additional information. I have purchased the device mentioned in the article


Ron Milford January 22, 2019 at 8:13 pm

Peter nailed it. This article starts off with a false premise then conflates it with an outdated and rarely used protocol (RFID) that had a loophole in it about three years ago.

Someone at the credit union also fed you a line of BS. In all likelihood your friends card was compromised by a known data breach, given that letters were sent out to multiple customers.

As Peter said, EMV cards do not transmit signals of any kind. The only cards that were able to be scanned were cards that also had RFID technology and that amounted to a very small percentage of credit/debit cards that were so equipped.



If you are really worried about it, instead of wasting money on RFID sleeves, aluminum wallets and the such just check and see if your card has a small radio antenna icon on it. If not, it’s not an RFID card.

Finally, RFID embedded cards never really caught on. What quickly supplanted them in the contactless payment field was NFC (Near Field Communication) via smartphones, apps such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.


korla eaquinta January 24, 2019 at 11:49 am

Ron & Peter, Can you guys shed some light on credit cards with the antenna or wi-fi symbol on them? Are they safe? It was my understanding from TV news articles that your card could not be captured “in the air.” That they had to place the device near your wallet.
Thanks in advance.


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