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Electronic pickpocketing

(also digital pickpocketing)

Electronic pickpocketing definition

Electronic pickpocketing is a type of theft where criminals steal personal information without physical contact. The most common targets are credit cards, passports, and other documents equipped with RFID technology. The thieves usually use an RFID reader, which can capture information wirelessly.

See also: RFID blocking, RFID tag, NFC tag

How to protect yourself against digital pickpocketing:

  • Use RFID-Blocking wallets or sleeves. These are specially designed to block RFID signals and can prevent digital pickpockets from scanning them remotely.
  • Stay alert in crowded places. Digital pickpockets often operate in public transport, markets, or events.
  • Secure Your Smartphone. Use strong passwords, keep your phone’s software updated, and turn off NFC and RFID features when not in use.
  • Tinker with contactless card settings. Some banks allow you to set controls on your contactless cards, like turning off the contactless feature and setting transaction limits.

What to do if you’ve become a victim of electronic pickpocketing

  • Check your accounts and monitor your credit report. Immediately review all transactions on your credit card and bank statements.
  • Report to financial institutions. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you find any unauthorized transactions. They can freeze your card to prevent and issue a new one.
  • Change your passwords. If your smartphone is compromised, update your passwords, especially those related to banking and payments.
  • File a police report. Even if police don’t find the thief, filing a report is helpful for documentation purposes, especially if identity theft occurs later.
  • Consider a fraud alert or credit freeze. Placing a fraud alert on your credit files makes it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.