Electronic pickpocketing is on the rise and Aussies could be losing as much as $439 million a year to tech-savvy thieves, according to Australian wireless skimming prevention company, Armourcard.
The findings follow a study the company conducted into the extent of the criminal activity. The survey, which polled more than 1000 consumers across Australia, revealed that one in seven Australians (14 per cent) have either been affected themselves or know someone that has been a victim of electronic skimming.
Electronic skimming is a type of credit card fraud, where criminals extract card details using RFID or NFC technologies.
Another key finding of the study is that 20 per cent of Australians are completely unaware of this crime. Armourcard co-founder and director, Tyler Harris, said if the issue isn’t addressed proactively now, things will only get worse for consumers.
“Wireless technologies, such as ‘Tap and Go’, have made life easier for shoppers and retailers. However, the same technology has become a target for criminals looking to exploit it for personal gain,” Harris said.
“Anyone with a NFC enabled smartphone can download any number of free apps which turn their phone into a device capable of retrieving personal information and data from ‘tap and go’ cards and ePassports. It is an invisible crime that often goes unnoticed until it is too late.”
In addition, 51 per cent of Australians admitted they wouldn’t notice if small amounts of money went missing from their accounts, with the average adult able to lose up to $28.49 without noticing. According to Harris, this equates to a potential loot of $519 million.
“The threat of being robbed $20, $30 or even $100 often isn’t at the top of our minds, but we are all aware that it happens. What is surprising is this is only the tip of the iceberg and consumers are yet to see the threat that lurks below the waterline,” Harris added.
He also stated as more items become RFID or NFC enabled – such as medical cards, library cards, driver’s licenses and national identity cards – the likelihood of being skimmed will increase.
“We’ve looked at this technology being rolled out across the globe and have found that personal information, such as your name, age, date of birth and address can easily be attached to the RFID or NFC microchips. Access to this information will only aid criminals in stealing your identity. Until the technology is proved 100 per cent safe it only makes sense to protect yourself,” Harris concluded.