Cameraphone Identity Theft Myth In The News Again

from the where's-the-proof? dept

Earlier this year, we had a story about the possibility that someone might, possibly, maybe use a cameraphone to snap a photo of your credit card when you pulled it out to pay at the supermarket. There was no evidence that this was actually happening, and it seemed a bit far-fetched for a variety of reasons. One of Techdirt’s readers even took out a fairly good cameraphone and tested it out, noting that it’s impossible to accurately photograph a credit card with current cameraphone technology. That isn’t to say this won’t become an issue as the quality gets better — and the quality has gotten better in the past year. However, there’s still no evidence that this is really happened anywhere. Instead, we get Gizmodo pointing to another article with quotes from police officers who say it’s happening all the time in South Florida. They don’t give any evidence. They haven’t found anyone doing it. Someone says that “it’s real easy to capture someone’s information by standing behind somebody,” without actually proving it. In fact, it’s not that easy. The article also notes that identity theft is “the fastest growing crime in Florida,” but puts it in context to make you think that identity theft by cameraphones is the fastest growing crime in Florida. Well, I guess if it’s gone from 0 to 1, that’s an infinite increase, but there isn’t any evidence that it’s ever happened anywhere. They quote one guy who claims his aunt’s bank account was wiped out, and he assumes they got her ATM card number this way. Yes, apparently, without anyone noticing, they’re assuming this criminal first took a photo of the ATM card in a clear enough manner to see the numbers, and then again used the camera phone to look over her shoulder to capture each button should pushed on the keypad to record her pin. Sounds likely.

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Comments on “Cameraphone Identity Theft Myth In The News Again”

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Michael Vilain says:

So, CSI can't see behind me using video surveillan

[Like a cheap surveillance camera is going to be able to see reflections in my corneas or glasses]

Besides with a reasonably used card, the coloring is worn off the numbers. _I_ have trouble reading it holding it in my hand in bright light. If camera phones were that good, I wouldn’t be lusting after a 5Gpx digital camera. I’d just replace my phone.

Jonathan Snook (user link) says:

ATM Cards are "secure"

I’d be surprised if they were able to do anything with just an ATM card number and a pin. IIRC, the information on the card is encrypted and therefore, someone making a new card has no way of replicating it based on that information alone. Which is why people buy special card readers that are secretly attached to ATM machines and specially mounted cameras that record the pin the user types in.

Director Mitch (user link) says:

You give your card to waiters...

This sort of reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon: Dilbert complains about how insecure the internet as he hands his credit card to a waitress. The waitress comes back in the next frame to hand his card back to him wearing new diamond jewelry and a fur coat – just as he finishes saying he would never enter his card number over the internet.

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