RFID Blocking Wallets- What Are They and Should You Get One?
RFID technology has helped the average consumer in that it allows you to make payments with just a wave of your credit card. You just need to be in close proximity of the payment scanner. No payment authorization is necessary. Great, right?
Well, it is, but as RFID has simplified your shopping experience it has also made it a lot easier for people to steal your information and even duplicate your cards or get their hands on your passport information. Just by standing next to you.
To keep you and your information safe, RFID blocking wallets have become available on the market. Created with metal fibers on the inside, they block RFID transmissions and shield you from digital pickpockets.
So how does RFID work? Do you have an RFID credit card, debit card or other cards with chipped information that can get stolen?
Keep reading because we have RFID explained for you and why you might need to look into investing in a wallet that will keep your information secure.
How RFID Works
The term RFID stands for “Radio Frequency Identification”. With the help of radio waves, RFID is able to recognize and track objects that are tagged with information. Originally created during World War II, RFID was used to pinpoint British aircrafts coming back from missions.
In today’s society, this technology is used in various sectors including banking, farming, retail, shipping, transportation and many others. It makes life a lot easier as you can identify the exact position of any one product in real time. It can even be used to keep tabs on employee whereabouts throughout the working day.
For the average person, RFID technology has done a great deal in simplifying your shopping experience. No longer having to type in your pin at the checkout means a lot when you’re managing a toddler and a few shopping bags in hand.
Instead, you can just wave your card which the electronic scanner sends a signal to. This signal is then received by the chip in your RFID card and is activated.
Sounds simple right? It is, but at the same time, it is also simple for digital thieves to get your card information in the same way. Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of RFID.
- Cuts down checkout wait times
- Can guide customers through the store to find wanted items
- Enhanced data and exact inventory detail
- Everything happens in real time
- RFID tags are easy to clone
- Your information can be used by third parties if hacked
How Can my Information Get Stolen?
The people getting their hands on credit card information via RFID are known as skimmers. Basically, anyone with $100 to spare can get all the tools they need online to retrieve other people’s credit card details. Whether it’s your credit card number, expiration date, even your passport information, all bets are off if you haven’t taken the needed precautions to protect your data.
All they really need to do is stand within 2-4 inches of you, which isn’t hard especially in crowds or checkout lines.
Using RFID scanners, your information is transmitted much like in the store you’re purchasing from. With the help of a card-magnetizing tool, it can take just seconds before the thief has transferred your information onto a completely new card. No physical contact needs to be made, so it’s most likely that they will have made a dash for it before you realize anything is wrong.
These silent assassins will often go unnoticed in crowded places because their scanners used to retain your information are small and can fit in any carry bag. So what can you do to stop them?
The good news is that you can take safety precautions as there is RFID blocking gear on the market. A small cost for peace of mind.
Does my Card Have an RFID Chip?
If it has a PayWave or blink logo either on the front or the back of the card, the answer is yes. Most bank cards have RFID chips in them these days, so even if the PayWave logo is not there, it does not mean your card isn’t equipped with RFID technology. In this case, give your bank a call to find out.
If you are the owner of an American Express Card, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover card, there is a great chance you have an RFID chip in there. Since 2006 all US passports have been created with RFID chips in them. This means all of the information found on the first page, including your photo are located on the chip. Even some drivers licenses have them.
Although credit card companies remain adamant that RFID technology is safe with the help of fraud detection technology, customer experiences have proven otherwise. Many banks have made only small transactions available whilst shopping, so you can only “wave” $20 or $50 at a time. This still doesn’t take away from the fact that someone can steal your personal information.
Aside from paying your bank to issue you with an RFID free bank card, you can purchase an RFID wallet which will help secure your information and stop it from falling into the wrong hands.
Protecting Your Personal Information with an RFID Blocking Wallet
There are a lot of great wallets, purses, and backpacks out there that have been created with a shield sewn into the material in order to protect you from skimmers. They aren’t any different to other wallets so although they will secure your information, nobody will be able to guess that you have full protection when out and about.
RFID blocking wallets usually contain within them a carbon fiber or metal layer which block electromagnetic fields from making signals and retaining your information. It is essential that items with RFID chips are inside your protected wallet, and not just in its close proximity as your information will not be protected if that is the case.
It should also be noted that you are most susceptible to digital thieves when out in crowded places. Think packed malls or long checkout lines. Also, public transport is another place where you can be targeted. When dining in a restaurant, make sure you avoid putting your bag on the back of your chair as this is another point where you can fall victim to skimming.
And if you aren’t already, it might be a good idea to think about investing in a VPN such as ExpressVPN, to give you extra security online.
A Note to Travelers
If you are making holiday plans it might be useful to note which countries have the highest numbers when it comes to credit card fraud. Here are the statistics, according to the Nilson Report in 2016.
Credit card fraud has accounted for a massive $24.71 billion in 2016, but which countries are affected the most and where can you sleep easy?
It may not come as a shock, but the US has the highest amount of credit card fraud. What is frightening is that a staggering 47% of all credit card fraud happens right here in our backyard. That RFID blocking wallet is looking like a great investment now isn’t it? Residents in Brazil and Mexico are also up the top of that list.
So, where are you least likely to be a victim of RFID crime? European countries seem to have the least reported cases of said crimes with 8% of Hungarian residents reporting such issues in the past five years.
Back to the US, in 2014 there were as many as 17.6 million counts of identity theft. That is not to say that all of them were a result of RFID skimmers scamming the unsuspecting public, but you can see how this ever-growing method can impact any of us.
Florida, Georgia, and Michigan were the states with the most complaints of identity theft, whilst the safest were Vermont and North Dakota. Of reported cases, about 65% of targeted individuals result in a loss of funds, with middle-aged to older citizens being the most affected.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many benefits to using RFID technology in today’s economic and social climate. From cutting down waiting time in stores, to easily getting your hands on the exact product you want, there are many benefits to this new technology.
However, as with every innovative piece of equipment, there are flaws to RFID chips and identity fraud is not something to take lightly. Scammers are able to get their hands on tools to aid them in stealing any unsuspecting individual’s personal information at a small cost on the internet. Working like silent assassins it is virtually impossible to spot them as they take advantage of people everywhere.
With that said it is vital to take any steps possible in order to keep your information as secure as it can be. This is why investing in an RFID blocking wallet is essential for anyone wanting peace of mind during their next shopping experience.