F A Q 's
You Have Questions? We have answers!.
Q: What is a 'smart' card?
A: It is a card with an embedded information 'chip' containing personal and/or financial information. It was originally conceived in an attempt to make information available faster, easier and more secure. Chips are now common in passports, driver licenses, building entry badges, hotel door cards, gate cards, military I.D. cards, and now, almost all credit and debit cards.
Q: What is an RFID chip?
A: Radio Frequency Identitification chips have the ability to broadcast your personal and financial information wirelessly. It can also be used to track your location, which is why chips are very often being implanted into the bodies of pets and children. Rumors are that eventually all people will be required to have chips implanted in order to accomodate a cashless economy, eliminating the need for RFID cards. Many already do.
Q: What does a chip do?
A: A chip contains information. For example, when you make a legitimate purchase with an RFID chip card, a 'reader' or terminal sends an interrogating signal, (also called a 'ping') to your chip. Almost all RFID chips today broadcast your personal and financial information when pinged at a 13.56 MHz (megahertz) frequency in order for the financial institution to approve or deny the transaction. 13.56 Mhz is a universal frequency used by stores, banks, and crooks. The same frequency is also used by smart phones, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, among others. This is why 13.56 Mhz is the frequency that SCRAMBLER© protects.
Q: Isn't it more difficult to steal my personal and financial information from an RFID chipped smart device?
A: It is actually easier. Crooks today can ping your card using inexpensive and widely available software, and now they can do it from very long distances. They can then use that information to steal your identity and access your financial accounts, access ATMs, purchase items, open new credit in your name, create a false entry badge or hotel door card, duplicate your passport/passport card, and more.
Q: So why are there RFID smart cards being issued if they are less secure?
A: The equipment needed to duplicate the chips is very expensive, placing it out of reach for smaller crooks. However, as the smaller crooks
increasingly collaborate with bigger crooks, financial losses from identity theft have exploded. Some argue that these smart cards are safer for various
reasons, but experience seems to indicate otherwise. Some experts say it is no longer a question of IF you will be hacked, just WHEN.
Q: How are magnetic stripe cards being replaced by smart cards?
A: Up until 2015 there were very few chips. But most financial institutions began sending their customers chip cards with an activation instruction letter. If you didn't activate the chip card, usually within 30-45 days they would deactivate your magnetic stripe card rendering it useless. By 2017 the majority of credit and debit cards were chipped. Whereas just a few years ago chip cards were rare, today it is rare to see a card that is not chipped.
Q: How do I know if I have RFID smart cards?
A: It can be difficult to tell. Most RFID smart cards have a visible chip- a four part gold metal square on the front. Others have certain key words or markings on them, front or back, like a cluster of triangles, for example. If you're not sure, we suggest protecting your identity. Better to be safe than sorry. Cleaning up the mess caused by crooks using your identity has been classified somewhere between very stressful to a complete nightmare.
Q: How do the crooks steal my RFID smart card information?
A: Originally, crooks could walk close to your wallet with a hidden reader and steal your information while it was still in your pocket or purse. But current crowd hacking techniques allow them to sit down near or walk through a crowd with a laptop, smart phone or tablet while broadcasting a 'bubble' or ping area for long distances around them. Everyone in this area without identity protection can have their RFID smart card information stolen in seconds.
Q: Where is this done?
A: According to “Top 10 Hacker Hot Spots” the most popular target for crowd hackers are malls. Others include sporting events/tailgate parties, airports, amusement parks, coffee houses, conventions, colleges, book stores, grocery stores and subway/train stations.
Q: What happens to my stolen information?
A: Your stolen information can be sold or used in any number of ways. The crook's goal is typically to make as much money as fast as possible using your stolen identity and credit. One of the most popular items that thieves can buy are gift cards, which can be sold online at a small discount. But they have also been known to buy everything from designer purses or jewelry to cars.
Q: Will I know when my identity is stolen?
A: Eventually. But by then it will probably be too late for anything except damage control. You might find yourself refused for a credit purchase, or, you could start receiving calls from credit collectors. And it could take several months to never in order to straighten out your ruined credit profile. The exploding number of identity thefts is why companies that help you clean up the mess for a monthly fee have become so successful.
Q: Won't the financial institutions cover my losses?
A: It seems they would like you to think so. But their rules can be complicated, and subject to certain laws. It may be safer to not assume that the financial institutions will automatically restore any losses, even though that seems to be what many banks and card issuers would like you to believe.
Our customers tell us that the higher the amount of the loss, the less of your money is likely to be returned.
Q: Will SCRAMBLER© have a negative effect on other cards in my wallet, such as demagnetizing the magnetic stripes?
A: No. And SCRAMBLER© cannot be demagnetized, will not set of security portals at airports and other places, and is legal throughout the world.
Q: Will SCRAMBLER© also protect my magnetic stripe cards from crowd hackers?
A: No, but magnetic stripes do not wirelessly broadcast information.
Q: Aren't sleeves or tin foil wrapped around my cards effective at preventing identity theft?
A: Contrary to popular belief, some sleeves (a pouch that you slide your smart card into) and tin foil provide spotty and limited protection in testing.
Especially against today's High Powered readers. In fact, a large percentage of RFID protective wallets, bags and purses no longer protect you.
Q: Besides SCRAMBLER©, are there other ways to protect smart cards from hackers?
A: Yes, but SCRAMBLER© is the only device we know of that is 100% effective. Even SCRAMBLER© knock-offs only provide spotty protection.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read our FAQs. If you have a question, correction, or would like to add some pertinent information, we welcome your comments and suggestions.