Scott Heiman — 18 September 2019
Card skimming security on the go

When we’re on the road, we rely on the contents of our wallet to see us through the trip, whether locally or abroad. And with the new ‘tap and go’ card technologies it seems to be getting easier — and easier — to part with your hard-earned cash.  

And that’s fine — just  as long as you’ve planned your spend to make the most of your time away.  

But with the new wireless non-contact technologies on your credit and debit cards, we can run the risk of our money disappearing without us even taking our wallets out of our pockets! 


We’re talking about ‘skimming’ or ‘electronic pick-pocketing’ and it works like this. Credit and debit cards communicate over a frequency (13.56MHz). So a thief with a card scanner standing in close proximity to you (up to 1m) can pick up your card number and expiry date. With this information, it’s simple to make transactions of up to $100 online or over the phone where a CCV number may not be required.  

As well as your credit and debit cards, your smartphone, ID cards and ePassports all broadcast your information to anyone to skim, due to the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that they all work on.

If you think the risk is far-fetched, think again. In 2018, it was reported that there were 1.8 million ‘dodgy’ transactions equating to $500,000,000 — yes that’s half a billion dollars. About 85 per cent of these were over the internet when you are purchasing online. This leaves 15 per cent for skimmers. Whilst skimming at ATMs has decreased by 45 per cent, organised crime syndicates now hire people to walk around scanning people’s cards as you walk past them or stand in line for coffee. They collect the data and then on-sell it through the black market for identity theft or to make purchases. Indeed, anyone with a smartphone can find skimming apps and video tutorials on the internet to teach them how to skim.

Fortunately, an Australian innovation is now available to counter the threat.  


No bigger than a couple of credit cards stacked on top of each other, the ARMOURCARD fits easily in your wallet.  Powered by an internal battery, it sits dormant until a skimmer tries to interrogate your credit card or ePassport. It then automatically powers up and creates a two centimetre ‘force field’ around the card that jams the 13.56Mhz frequency, stopping hackers from skimming personal information. The in-built batteries generally last between 18 to 24 months.  If they run out quicker, it’s probably proof that you’ve been the target of skimmers and your ARMOURCARD has been working for you!

Whether you’re travelling locally or abroad, the ARMOURCARD seems like a pretty sound investment. They even make one to stick on your phone! 

It retails at $59.95 and is available from department stores and electronic suppliers including Myer, Harvey Norman and JB HiFi.


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Scott Heiman