More Stories On Camera Phone ID Theft With No Evidence

from the let's-try-this-again... dept

Last week we wrote about a report saying that police were warning of camera phones being used in identity theft. The story had police claiming that someone with a camera phone could take a picture of your credit card and steal the number. We were skeptical here, because it seems pretty inefficient and difficult – plus, the lack of any actual evidence that this was happening made it especially questionable. Longtime Techdirt reader, Director Mitch decided to test this out, and used his camera phone to take a picture of his credit card from three feet away (a reasonable distance for the “crime” described) and posted it to the internet for all to steal. It would be a small annoyance if that was all there was to this story, but wireless guru Alan Reiter has been tracking the story and is noticing a disturbing trend of a report from MSNBC and a local news station both reporting on similar “threats” related to camera phones. Yet none of these reports has any evidence that it’s actually happened, and none have dared to go as far as Director Mitch and tested it out to see how difficult it would actually be to steal a credit card this way. Is this a potential problem? Sure. However, lazy reporting on a problem that does not yet exist doesn’t do anyone any good.

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Comments on “More Stories On Camera Phone ID Theft With No Evidence”

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Director Mitch (user link) says:

Re: Why a Camera Phone

The interesting part is: why would you use a camera phone for this sort of crime when there are so many easier methods? More info can be acquired just by taking the monthly statement out of your mailbox (most mailboxes aren’t secure), trolling for receipts in someone’s garbage (most people don’t use shredders), and ofcourse just copying down the info (for example, when you give your card to a waiter in a restaurant, what could he do with it for the 5-8 minutes that it is out of your sight? He could copy the info, take out his cell phone with internet capability and buy something, you name it).

Like the above commenter says, it makes a good story because the product is “new” and they can sensationalize a nothing story with a new spin (a waiter stealing your info isn’t nearly as interesting, even though it happens more often than camera phone theft).

Pink Panther (user link) says:

Re: Re: Why a Camera Phone

Of course there are MANY easy ways to commit identity theft. But I think the camera phone adds a new slant. It won’t be the guy lurking several feet behind you that you need to worry about, but the clerk that makes $6/hr holding your card a few inches from their camera phone innocently placed next to the cash register!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why a Camera Phone

Why would she do this when she has a copy of your receipt sitting right there in her register? She could so all sorts of things after you leave, when she closes at the end of the shift, etc. and doesn’t need a $100+ cellcam to facilitate it.

Ofcourse, security cams that spy on HER prevent whatever she may do, but that is another argument…

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