ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - Technology designed for convenience could be putting your identity at risk.
It's called RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification; it's a little chip showing up in passports and credit cards. All someone has to do is hold it up to a scanner to send your information, making it easier for both businesses and thieves.
"Think of them as a little file storage case and they can put them in just about anything," said Walt Augustinowicz, founder of Englewood-based Identity Stronghold.
"As soon as I heard about how these radio frequency chips worked, I knew it was a privacy issue," Augustinowicz said.
Identity Stronghold started five years ago, when the technology first started to spread. The same scanners used legitimately started showing up on the internet.
"You just wave (the scanner) by someone's back pocket as you're walking by them," Augustinowicz said. "You would never know because you don't even have to touch them."
His company's solution: a special sleeve lined with a metallic material designed to block the chip's signal.
"It's like adding an on/off switch to these cards that they don't have," Augustinowicz said.
Now businesses and even government agencies have turned to the southwest Florida company for its inexpensive protection.
"People need to know this is just another easy avenue for criminals to take to get your information."
Because the technology is so new, authorities like the Lee County Sheriff's Office say they know of no thefts using RFID scanners, yet.
Identity Stronghold currently offers its products online at idstronghold.com, but hopes to expand into retail outlets soon, as well as expanding its headquarters in Englewood.