Smartphones Can Skim Credit Card Info Through Your Wallet

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Experts warn that fraudsters could gain access to your credit just by holding their phones close to your pocket.

Keep an eye on your credit card transactions.

A free app can be used to read credit card information from a nearby card even if it’s not visible, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. says.

The news site tested the app with a Samsung Galaxy S3, and was able to pick up card numbers, expiration dates and cardholder names by holding the phone within 4 inches of a contactless card — including through purses, wallets or pockets.

A next-generation phone might be able to read data from a greater distance, it said.

The app makes use of a chip built into newer credit and debit cards to make swipe-free payments through near field communication. Instead of swiping, those cards allow you to tap them to buy things. Contactless cards are becoming more common in the U.S., Forbes says, and it’s not the first time this security vulnerability has been publicly demonstrated.

A representative of Canadian company Seccuris told the CBC such apps have been used for credit card fraud already, and could be used for “anything from a $1.50 drink from a drink machine to a $4,000 to $5,000 laptop.”

Visa said it has received no reports of such fraud, though both Visa and MasterCard said they would cover the losses if it happened. Google, which owns the platform where the app is available, said it would remove apps that violate its policies.

Stacy Johnson

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