Solution created to prevent virtual pick pocketing

Switching cards off

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have pioneered a solution that enables contactless cards to be “switched off” (view press release). RFID tags and NFC cards are triggered into activation when located in an electromagnetic field. Thieves can therefore theoretically charge purchases or extract cash from the card simply by passing a portable scanner (which are readily available) nearby.

The new solution uses “an antenna and electrical circuitry that can be interrupted by a simple switch” says Marlin Mickle, executive director of the RFID Centre for Excellence in the Swanson School. The cardholder activates the card and enables payment by holding down the switch; when tactile contact is stopped the card is effectively deactivated and therefore not vulnerable to thieves.

Mickle goes on to say that the solution “is simple and very inexpensive to integrate into the RFID and NFC credit card manufacturing process… We have filed a patent application and hope to see the technology quickly adopted.”

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