Have you heard about ‘The Wave’?

‘The Wave’, are you ready for it? Whether you are or not, it’s here, and in a big way.

  • Jan. 3, 2011 3:00 p.m.

‘The Wave’, are you ready for it? Whether you are or not, it’s here, and in a big way.

What is ‘The Wave’, and how can you protect yourself while enjoying its conveniences?

‘Waving’ is new technology that is embedded on RBC and other banks’ credit cards with a limit of $150 maximum. The credit card is ‘waved’, or passed, over a merchant security device, similar to the standard PIN pad. The pad captures your data without you inserting the card, using a pin number, or signing.

This new technology’s intent is to quicken the process of small purchases such as lunches, coffees etc. Each business sets its own transaction limit for the ‘waving’ component which is around $25. Restaurants and pubs often opt out of the ‘waving’ segment given their transactions are higher and there is no option to include a server tip with ‘The Wave’.

 ‘Waving’ is only possible with credit cards, not debit cards, and merchants should not ask for additional ID since doing so is in violation of the merchant/bank agreement.

 Several fast food establishments have MasterCard’s PayPass which uses the same technology, which is an embedded antenna. The process is fast and convenient, particularly when there are long line-ups at your favourite coffee house.

Not to be humbug about this revolutionary technology, but there are inherent dangers in any system that doesn’t have a security chip, and doesn’t require a PIN number or signature.

WREG television in Tennessee hosts a video clip http://www.wreg.com/videobeta/?watchId=8ba6f8fc-90a2-4711-90ea-1884ec348310 which depicts a system of electronic pick-pocketing whereby a person with an iPad size radio frequency device passes both men and women and steals their credit card information. Without additional information prior to viewing the clip, the message can be disturbing.

Rural Crime Watch (RCW) checked with Royal Bank’s Security/Fraud agents who said that the retrieval technology depicted in the video exists but the device has to pass within at least 2.5 cm of your wallet/credit card. Presumably you would be aware of someone passing such an item that close to your person – or you should be.

RCW questions whether the purported pick-pocket in the video embellished the technique to encourage viewers to purchase his credit card protective devices?

RBC advises users to ‘Wave’ intelligently, and to report a missing card immediately. RCW adds that you should always protect your personal identification number (PIN), and don’t keep the number in your wallet or purse. With the chip embedded in your credit and ATM cards, it is impossible for a thief to use the cards unless they have your PIN.

RCMP warns merchants, “To criminals, point of sale terminals are as valuable as cash, and thieves usually target high-volume terminals. They steal the terminals, re-engineer their components, then return them. They’ve now captured your magnetic stripe data and PIN.”

“Merchants can help deter this kind of fraud by following these tips:

• Secured terminals (anchored or cabled to the counter top), and removed and locked away                                                each night.

• Ensure your staff is aware of the terminal’s serial number, which is found on the underside of the device. This number should be written down                                          and posted by the cash register.

• Staff should check the terminal’s serial number at the beginning and end of each day, and several times throughout the day, to make sure no one has replaced your terminal with another.”

For the RCMP’s full brief go to: www.ruralcrimewatch.com/index.php?zone=0&pagedisp=bulletins, and report any concerns or observations to your detachment and RCW.

Rural Crime Watch wishes you all the best for 2011 and encourage you to “Be Safe”.

This column by Jonathan McCormick and Denny Fahrentholz.