ConsumerWatch: Thieves Use Bluetooth to Steal Credit Card Info

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Thieves are using a new tactic to steal credit and debit card information.

It’s called bluesnarfing — capturing your credit card information via Bluetooth — and they’re doing it while their victims are shopping.

Whether you’re swiping your card in the check-out line or paying at the gas pump, experts say criminals are capturing credit card information in a new way.

KPIX5 security analyst Jeff Harp says it’s the next generation of skimming.

Harp said they can capture the information instantly, “the minute you swipe your card.”

Bluesnarfing captures your card information via Bluetooth technology.

The thieves will simply sit 20-30 feet away, and while you are swiping your card, they will be sucking up the data.

Instead of attaching a skimming device to the card reader that captures information — that crooks later have to later come back and retrieve — crooks are now installing Bluetooth-enabled skimming devices on or inside payment systems that send your account numbers and even pin codes to the crooks’ Bluetooth-connected device instantly.

In 2014, New York investigators broke up a crime ring they say used Bluetooth skimmers throughout the south.

And last week the technology turned up in Texas.

Harp says that because the criminals mainly want card numbers which can be used online, chip cards aren’t necessarily safer.

He says, it should be a warning.

As technology advances to help us, the thieves also advance to try to steal the technology.

So how do you protect yourself?

Well, if a card reader looks like it’s been tampered with, don’t use it.

In general, it’s safer to pay inside the gas station when possible, and use credit instead of debit.

And these days, it’s wise to set up phone alerts for credit card transactions, so you can track fraudulent transactions instantly.

More from Julie Watts
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