Our family got hacked by credit card scammers, so we decided to do something about it!
Posted by Beth Stevens on
On December 26th, my sister shut-off her alarm, and hurried to the local mall to snatch-up the fancy holiday wrapping paper at 50% off. (YES, she is one of those people, but that is a whole different story in and of itself!) With an armful of beautifully designed rolls of wrap, she headed for the register, with high-hopes of being over to my house for Christmas brunch leftovers by 10:00 a.m. Much to my sister's dismay, however, the sales clerk politely relayed that her credit card had been declined, and that she'd have to provide an alternative payment method. Now thoroughly embarrassed, she handed the clerk her debit card; this was promptly declined, as well. In absolute full panic mode, my sister scraped together enough cash for half of the wrapping paper rolls, and bolted out the doors of the mall. My utterly embarrassed sister charged home, and started preparing for Armageddon.
Not only is my sister a bargain hunter, she is also a fantastic bill payer, who keeps careful watch over her finances, and always pays-off her monthly bills in full (how we are sisters, with me being the absolute antithesis of this, is a mystery to me! ). She hadn't even taken off her coat, before dialing her credit and debit card companies, and trying to get to the bottom of her mortifying incident at the mall. As it turned-out, both finance companies indicated that there had been suspicious charges made to the account, so they decided to put holds on the accounts, until they could research the charges. One of the charges was for $1,500 worth of silver coins from an authorized U.S. Mint Dealer in Ohio. Another was for $2200 worth of electronics purchased from Pennsylvania retailer.
Thankfully, both of the finance companies recognized the charges as fraudulent, so my sister was not responsible for them in any way; however, the whole incident was an extremely unsettling annoyance, and she'd be without a debit or credit card for 3-5 days. The financial services companies were somehow able to determine that the credit card breach was made at LaGuardia Airport in New York, on December 21st; my sister travels quite a bit for work, so this address made sense to her, as she'd made multiple trips to New York before Christmas. The finance companies reported that someone had stolen my sister's credit card information simply by standing next to her! The credit card institutions processed new credit cards that would be sent to my sister via certified mail, and suggested that she purchase an R.F.I.D. blocking wallet.
What now? What the heck is an R.F.I.D. wallet? Well that's what my sister and I asked as well. RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification. Apparently, the RFID chips which are part of most credit cards can be easily "scanned" without you realizing it; hackers walk near you, and copy the RFID data and create a clone of your credit card. Scary stuff, right?
Fortunately, radio waves are pretty easy to interrupt and block, and that is how R.F.I.D. blocking wallets work. They are made with a special material that interferes with radio waves. After doing a little research, it seems that a number of wallets and accessories are made from this material; many are made by high-end retailers, and cost hundreds of dollars, and others are plain colored, and rather drab looking.
With that in mind, we at Sharks On Shore decided to design a few R.F.I.D. blocking wristlets, with the idea that they would be the perfect accessory for a night on the town. These wristlets are made to order, based on the phone size, and the phone snaps into a holder that moves up and down for picture taking. Cute, and functional. What could be better? Also, we've designed fun patterns of ladies' traditional wallets, complete with R.F.I.D. blocking material.
We hope this helps to keep your private information safe. Unfortunately, my sister will have to cough-up the full price for her fancy Christmas wrapping paper next year --- but a good, hard lesson was learned by all!