This Simple Tip Will Protect You from Identity Thieves With Thermal Cameras

With the continued rapid advancement of technology, new software and devices are coming out all the time that better your camera phone and allow you to take unique and high quality photos. There are apps that can take long exposures, create panoramas, edit photos, and so on. There are detachable camera phone lenses ranging from macro to telephoto, fancy camera mounts, and flexible tripods. The list goes on. But, with all the good, comes the bad.

There is a new product, using old technology, that allows iPhones to take pictures in infrared. Sounds cool—and it is in many ways—but the thermal cameras have the ability to capture very important personal info—specifically banking PIN codes. Here’s how to avoid your PIN getting stolen:

Mark Rober explains how you can protect yourself from identity thieves who use infrared camera phone technology to take pictures of banking PIN codes. There is a new device that has just hit the market that clips onto the back of an iPhone and displays infrared. This means the phone can now photograph heat—your thermal signature.

iphone infrared

Infrared cameras sense body temperature.

Every time you touch something, you leave behind your thermal signature, including when you punch your PIN into a keypad. Each time you press a button, the heat from your finger transfers to that button. As soon as you’ve finished your purchase, the thief just needs to get to the keypad before the heat fades and briefly hover their phone over the keypad long enough to snap a shot.

With the thermal camera, they can easily see which buttons you pressed, and even worse, the order in which you pressed them. This is because the first numbers pressed will start to lose heat as you continue and the last number in the code will be hotter than the rest, which shows up as orange or red.

atm pin security

The last buttons pressed will be hotter than the first.

How to Prevent PIN Theft

One very simple way to prevent this from happening to you is to just rest your fingers on the keypad and unused numbers as you punch in your code. This will spread your heat all over the keypad, making it almost impossible to tell which numbers were used.

Now, the means in which theses thieves steal the rest of your card info, like the absolutely necessary number, can vary—skimmer devices, taking a snapshot of the front of the card as you use it, physically robbing you. There are many ways experienced and crafty identity thieves can obtain your card number, but we’re just talking about the PIN here. So, as much as you think the PIN is useless without the actual card, isn’t it best just to cover all your bases and stay safe?

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