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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 16, April 16, 2006, Article 18

WHY PEOPLE MICROWAVE THEIR ATM CARDS

In previous issues, we've discussed the use of RFID (radio
frequency identification) tags in currency and credit cards.
On April 10 the Wall Street Journal published a related article
titled, "Why Some People Put These Credit Cards In the Microwave."

"When Brenden Walker got his new MasterCard PayPass ATM card
in the mail last month, he headed to the gas station to try
it out.

To test the card's "Tap N Go" convenience, he passed it in front
of the scanner, which activated with a beep and displayed the
word "authorizing..." on its LCD screen.

That was quite enough for Mr. Walker. Without completing the
transaction, he put the card down on the pavement and took a
hammer to it."

"The PayPass card, which contains an embedded radio chip, had
worked perfectly....  But Mr. Walker, a 37-year-old software
engineer in Canton, Ohio, is one of a growing number of computer
and technology experts who are becoming anxious about possible
abuses of the technology. Mr. Walker fears that thieves will be
able to eavesdrop on the radio transmission and buy gas at his
expense."

"Others are using do-it-yourself methods for disabling radio
chips, including microwaving them. The electromagnetic energy
emitted by a microwave oven fries the chip and renders it
useless. The downside: Tagged items might burst into flames
in the process..."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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