Techy crooks steal data from yards away

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Crooks are coming up with new ways to steal your hard-earned money. Experts are warning shoppers about wallet skimmers ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

With technology, thieves can hijack your credit card number from up to 30 feet away.

These days the bad guys are working smarter not harder.

Andy Curlee with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit says, "We live in a technological world."

And crooks are using technology to their advantage.

Curlee says his team is trying to stay one step ahead of the latest crime wave.

Thieves can steal your credit card number "in seconds or less", Curlee says.

If your credit card has a chip and a wifi symbol, you could be the target of an electronic pickpocket.

Credit card security experts warn it can happen to anyone. 

It happened to Kimberly Pratt. She says she was an easy mark but didn't know until it was too late. Her bank account took a big hit.

"It copied all my card info to his scanner," Pratt recalled.

With the click of a mouse, illegal scanners can be purchased online, allowing the plastic-plotting pirates to steal your credit card data from as far away as 30 feet.

"People need to be cautious."

That's a message from the Better Business Bureau as the busy holiday shopping season inches closer and closer, and millions of credit card numbers are compromised each year.

Here's what you can do: experts say use multiple RFID cards, so scanners get a jumbled mess of unintelligible information. Also, it's not a bad idea to pay for a little extra protection. Online, NBC Charlotte found a RFID blocking wallet for as little as $5. There are also sleeve blockers as cheap as 2-cents.

For a home-made option - experts say covering your card in foil still does the trick.

"If we don't start thinking about taking steps to protect ourselves, it's probably just going to continue," Curlee said.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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