The holiday season is a busy time of year. People tend to cram a lot of activities in a short time. There’s shopping to do, meals to prepare, flights to catch, and more. Shopping centers tend to be crowded, and so do restaurants and other businesses. Most people are focused on their to-do lists or itineraries, so crooks can do what they do with less worry about getting caught. Pickpocketing used to be the major concern for people in large crowds. But today, there’s a different threat, and it’s called digital pickpocketing or skimming.

Digital pickpocketing occurs when a thief uses a special scanner to read the information on someone else’s RFID-enabled credit/debit card or identification card. It’s quick and easy to do, but difficult for anyone to detect. If you’re going to be out and about during the holiday season, you should follow a few simple tips to keep your contactless payment cards safe. 

Know where you’re likely to encounter digital pickpockets.

Traditional pickpockets have always done their work in crowded places. Large groups of people make pickpocketing much easier. People are more likely to bump into or brush against each other. Thieves need to get close to nab your wallet or purse, so they need environments where people don’t think much about a little contact with strangers. Dense crowds also make it more difficult to see someone’s hand slip into the pocket of another person. 

Crowds provide cover for digital pickpockets too. Because we tend to keep our heads up when we’re in large groups, we’re not likely to see someone run a scanner along a person’s back pocket or purse. To keep your contactless cards safe this holiday season, remember to keep your wallet or purse in a secure place when you’re out in public. And be sure to store any RFID-enabled payment or identification where it’s secure from electronic theft. 

Keep your contactless payment cards safe when you go shopping.

Malls and shopping centers are excellent spots for digital pickpockets to nab your credit card number and identification. You’ve probably heard that keeping your wallet in a money belt is a good way to avoid losing it to a pickpocket. The breast pocket of a coat is another option. But when it comes to RFID theft, neither of these places will do much. Your best bet with RFID cards is to always keep them in a shielded case of some kind. An RFID-blocking wallet or purse is a surefire way to thwart skimming. 

Protect your RFID cards in airports, bus stations, and subways.

During the holiday season, airports and other transit stations tend to be much more crowded than other times of the year. Thieves know that this is an opportune time to score credit card numbers and other private information. You should follow the traditional advice about putting your money somewhere safe. And using an RFID-blocking wallet or purse for contactless payment cards ensures that your digital assets are also secure.

Beware of digital theft at tourist attractions and rest stops.

Many people travel during the holidays—to meet up with family, take vacations, and do some sightseeing. If you’re going anywhere at this time of year, remember to keep your money and identification in some kind of RFID-blocking product.

Museums, especially the big ones in New York, Paris, and other major cities around the world, are prime locations for skimmers. There may be thousands of people going through each of these facilities during any single day of the holidays. Make sure your money is in a secure place, don’t take payment cards out more often than you have to, and keep everything in an RFID-blocking wallet, purse, or bag. 

If you’re taking a road trip, take care at rest stops and gas stations. Along significant interstates, some of these can get quite busy. 

Help your family and friends avoid skimming all year long.

Now that you’re aware of the threat that digital pickpockets pose to holiday shoppers and travelers, you can help family and friends stay safe. An RFID wallet, purse, or badge-holder is a great 2019 gift idea that offers peace of mind. You might even want to give a few RFID wallets or purses as early gifts to protect family and friends during their holiday shopping. 

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