I’ve written about the new “blink” technology that allows you to simply hold up a credit card with radio frequency (RFID) identity tags to pay for something. McDonald’s and other retail establishments have put these RFID card readers in front of their cash registers to speed up the payment process.

But are they safe? The New York Times is reporting on a test that was done with 20 cards from Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The test, whose results are widely dismissed by the credit card companies, showed that the RFID tags can be read at distances of up to several feet away.

Researchers claim that for about $150, you could make up your own RFID card reader with supplies from Radio Shack, which you could then use to swipe card information from people walking on the street, or even by sticking it into mailboxes.

Credit card companies say these fears are overblown. You decide.

October 23, 2006