'On' and 'Off' switch design to avoid credit card RFID and NFC theft

Gone are the days of heavy wallets, just a couple of cards work fine for the new web-age. Using near-field communication (NFC) and radio frequency identification (RFID) further negates the need to swipe credit cards through an interrogative machine. One has to simply wave the card and the money will be withdrawn from the bank account and the purchases will be made with ease. However, this method could be susceptible to fraud and theft. To avoid this, researchers at Pittsburg Swanson School of Engineering have built an improved method for enhanced security through new credit card design that allows it to turn ‘on’ and ‘off.’

Flash it instead of swiping..with ease

Flash it instead of swiping..with ease (Image Credit: Getty Images)


The new technology allows consumers to simply hold their RFID or NFC credit cards in a specified area (which could be hidden behind a logo or an emblem), while making the transaction. Holding the switch, will turn on the card and the card automatically turns off, when it returns to a wallet or purse and the tactile contact is discontinued. "Our new design integrates an antenna and other electrical circuitry that can be interrupted by a simple switch, like turning off the lights in the home or office," says Mickle. "The RFID or NFC credit card is disabled if left in a pocket or lying on a surface and unreadable by thieves using portable scanners."

"This solution is simple and very inexpensive to integrate into the RFID and NFC credit card manufacturing process," Mickle says. "We have filed a patent application and hope to see the technology quickly adopted, once approved."

RFID tags and NFC credit cards operate as soon as they are placed in an electromagnetic field. This can be jeopardizing, as portable readers available for some hundred dollars ease thieves to effortlessly pass a reader near an NFC credit card and charge for the purchases and also steal money from its owner’s bank accounts, according to Marlin Mickle, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Engineering and executive director of the RFID Center for Excellence in the Swanson School.

Published Date: Feb 20, 2012 02:27 pm | Updated Date: Feb 20, 2012 02:27 pm