LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -- Long gone are the days when criminals needed your actual credit or social security cards to steal your information. Now, they can get it with the wave of a wand.
It's a new form of identity theft called radio frequency skimming.
"It's amazing for people to be able to tap into you and you not even know it."
A man who didn't want to be identified told WAVE News that he was a victim of this new rage.
"I was riding the bus, actually I was about to get onto a bus and about to take my seat and a young fellow bumped into me."
That little bump didn't seem like a big deal at the time. But it was, his information was zapped by the stranger and within hours the thief went on a major shopping spree.
"A lot of charges...over 5 thousand dollars of stuff was charged on my card."
All this from a card that hasn't left John's wallet for at least two years.
With a small homemade skimming device, a criminal can walk past you and get your information.
A small RFID chip that's embedded in your credit card, your passport, or your luggage tag is broadcasting your personal information constantly. It makes it easy to make purchases but it also makes you an easy target.
"The technology itself isn't causing problems. It's the way the technology is being utilized." says Andrew Davis, an Internet Security Specialist at the University of Louisville.
He tells us how you can avoid becoming the next victim. "Currently, you have to request a RFID credit card."
The credit card industry issued 50 million of these new RFID credit cards just last year.
You can request a standard card, which does not have the computer chip installed. If you already have one, and want to keep it, you can protect it by using a steel-plated wallet.
"Those should be effective in blocking the signals because it actually prevents the device from being triggered" says Davis.
If switching from leather to metal is a bit extreme for you, an on-line company is advertising the Armadillo Dollar. Just by wrapping your card with the dollar, the radio frequency is blocked.
And it's not just your credit card that's at risk. Your debit card is, too.
Davis adds that, "If you had a debit card, you really wouldn't want the RFID on your debit card because then they would have full access to your bank account."