Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Why my credit cards live in a tinfoil hat

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I am not, normally, a very paranoid person. I am more open and transparent online than most. I talk to people in the street and my general attitude is that most people are trustworthy unless they give me reason to think otherwise. But lately I've been displaying behaviour that is worthy of a conspiracy theorist, and here's why.

I am extremely annoyed that Visa saw fit to send me a proximity card without consulting me. All of my other cards need to be pushed into a machine and have a PIN put in before they yield their information, but this one you just wave vaguely in the direction of the reader. This is apparently desirable, as suggested by the current hideous "smallenfreude" (what language is that?) campaign going on. I've had store clerks tell me that sometimes the Visa picks up a payment when people had intended to use a different card. Who needs a card with a mind of its own?

But it isn't just the annoyance of your wallet pre-empting your brain. There are well-documented smartphone apps out there that will skim your card without ever touching it. I asked Visa about this issue and they said airily, "Oh, we cover that." Really, they can prevent identity theft? I understand they will repay me if somebody uses the information to steal money from my account or make purchases, but what if they use it to open other accounts in my name without my knowledge? Who is responsible then? And who gave them permission to make my information publicly available like that, anyway? Sure as heck wasn't me.

I just happened to be in my local hardware store when I saw a lovely pink aluminium container, just the right shape for credit cards. For $7, I now have a nice Faraday cage around my cards that prevents anyone from being able to pick up their signal. I did have to get used to not having my cards in my regular wallet anymore, but that's a small price to pay for avoiding smallenfreude. Ugh.

What do you think, are you a fan of these cards?

Or are you as paranoid as I am? What else can we do to prevent large corporations from treating our private information so cavalierly?

Hadass Eviatar blogs

at hadasseviatar.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 A15

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