In the 21st century, pickpocketing has evolved to a whole new level. Your credit card information and other important details can be stolen right under your nose! Today’s crop of thieves will rob you of your identity without your slightest knowledge. Even with the latest security designs in wallets, they easily find their way to your personal information.
To combat this, RFID blocking wallets block off all incoming signals, keeping your identity safe. It still begins the question: do RFID blocking wallets work?
First, here’s a brief insight on how RFID technology works.
How Does Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Work?
RFID works similarly to barcode technology: instead of a barcode, and the scanner, you have a RFID tag and a RFID reader (which has an antenna). Unlike the barcode, However, the RFID reader doesn’t have to ‘see’ the tag: the reader only needs to be in close proximity.
Once close enough, data is transferred to the antenna as radio waves, compromising your privacy and banking details. Used in many applications, RFID technology is present in security checkpoints, credit cards, and even tagging animals.
Through it, we can now pay for products and services without your card touching the terminal.
What Use Is Your Information To RFID Thieves?
Just recently in 2015, identity theft becomes the leading complaint at FTC. While this technology makes it incredibly easy for a thief to steal your personal details, your finances are put at risk.
By successfully skimming your card, a thief can use the retrieved information to drain all your accounts! In other instances, identity thieves can copy your cards’ encrypted information and load it to another card, effectively making a duplicate of your wallet.
How To Tell Whether Your Cards Have RFID
If your cards have a horizontal wi-fi symbol, they are RFID enabled. The newer debit and credit cards have a small rectangular chip embedded on the front; these more prominent chips (Europay Visa Mastercard, EMV) add extra security to safeguard your information.
Unlike traditional cards, the new RFID credit cards stay in your hand all through, only requiring you to wave them at a reader. However, unless extra protective measures are taken, identity thieves can as easily access your confidential information with portable RFID scanners.
Recently, thieves are using smartphones and free apps to blend in and be even more stealthy. Securing all your RFID-enabled cards in an RFID-blocking wallet will give you the peace of mind you need.
Note: The presence of a chip on your card’s front doesn’t exclusively indicate that it has RFID or vice versa.
How Do Thieves Acquire Your Encrypted Information?
RFID readers, also known as interrogators or transceivers, are incredibly easy and cheap to acquire. With this reader in their coat pocket, the thief only needs to get within a few inches of your unsecured cards: in a matter of seconds, they will be done and on their way to rein havoc.
In any crowded environment, a thief can retrieve confidential information from countless unsuspecting people. The RFID data contains:
-The credit card number
-The expiration date
-Other personal information
This technology, also used in some identification cards, driver’s licenses, passports and employee badges can be easily manipulated with a computer. In their earliest days, RFID embedded debit and credit cards could transmit a lot of information, making it fairly easy for identity thieves to clone cards. Most credit card companies and companies have upped their games, making it harder for thieves to rob you blind.
After a single purchase, most cards have nor been programmed to alter their internal security protocol. Should a thief to retrieve information from such a card, it would only be good for one purchase! Even with all these measures, having your personal information compromised will still give you the creeps.
Worrying Identity Theft Statistics
A study carried out by Javelin Strategy & Research in 2013 the U.S indicated that one new person fell victim to identity theft every 2 seconds! Today, there is an overwhelming number of victims, all put to get their identities, and hopefully money, back.
If you have been a victim of data breaches, you are 9.5 times more likely to have your identity stolen. The study also determined that families with a combined income of $150,000+ were more likely to be targeted with the intention of draining the accounts.
As much as RFID-blocking wallets are useful in preventing fraud, confidential information may also be sourced from the victim’s social media accounts: it pays to secure these accounts and limit access to information to the bare minimum.
People with perfect credit scores are an identity thief’s ideal target; their cards can be easily compromised to take even bigger withdrawals and purchases. Of the 12 million people falling victim to RFID identity theft each year, 3 million are deceased: there is truly no honor among thieves!
Why Carry an RFID-blocking Wallet?
To protect all your cards from identity theft, an RFID-blocking option would be the simplest option. On the downside, RFID chips can give away a wealth of information from a safe distance.
RFID-blocking wallets are portable Faraday cages fitting perfectly in your pocket. A Faraday cage/shield blocks all electromagnetic fields and is made of a highly conductive material such as metal or carbon. Using a scanner, the identity thief sends out an electromagnetic field, collecting confidential information in the process.
With an RFID-blocking wallet, the electromagnetic field gets distributed on the wallet’s exterior, keeping its contents safe from prying eyes. By canceling out the radiation or charge from the wallet’s interior, your privacy will be hard to breach even for the most seasoned perpetrators.
In reality, these wallets are like hollow conductors, where the charge remains on their exterior without even penetrating.
Besides wallets, the Faraday Shield phenomenon is widely used for the protection of sensitive electronic equipment from outside radio frequency interference. With your wallet functioning as a Faraday Cage, no sensitive information will leak out without your consent.
The most common materials used in the production of RFID-blocking wallets are Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, and other similarly conductive materials.
What To Look For In Superior RFID-blocking Wallets
Unlike a few years back, RFID blocking wallets are more widespread, readily available, and varying in design and functionality. Still, many current designs have inexcusable flaws which will likely put you off.
Some of the distinct and bothersome design feature:
– Traditional leather wallets lined with aluminum foil. Apart from being unnecessarily noisy, this foil will tear away over time, breaking its ‘protective’ seal.
– Removable RFID Shielding sleeves. Flimsy in their construction, these sleeves will only give you a harder time accessing your cards, in addition to making your wallet considerably heavy.
– Cheaply produced hard case wallets. Profusely advertised on the internet and TV, these scam products are ineffective in RFID blocking.
– 2 cheaply made aluminum plates which are held in place by a hair tie; you risk breaking them if you sit on the wallet; don’t we all sit on ours?
To buy the best RFID-blocking wallet, you should look out for:
#1 An Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Plating, Not Merely An Aluminum Foil
The stronger the aluminum alloy plates, the safer your cards will be and the longer your wallet will last. For the best functionality, the plates should fit snugly and firmly in the wallet, ensuring that they don’t get damaged or crushed easily.
Tip: Stong polycarbonate shell designs are the toughest on the market yet; they look classy too!
#2 RFID-Friendly Wallets, Not Just RFID-blocking Ones
Radio Frequency Identification is a typical 2-way street: your RFID cards have been made to enable easy, effortless scanning. The best-designed RFID-blocking wallets take this into account.
If you will be regularly using certain cards at a specific time of day, some wallet designs allow you to attach these cards on the back. For instance, subway-entry and RFID work-entry cards can be used conveniently without opening the wallet.
All other credit, debit, and identification cards can remain securely in the vault!
#3 Is The Wallet Expandable?
Let’s face it, we have all had an overwhelming number of cards at a time, all for specific uses. Perhaps your favorite Aunt gifted you a card you just can’t leave behind. The most thoughtful designs have attachable clips, allowing you to expand your storage space and fit them all!
With this extra capacity, you can protect your regular and business cards in addition to your RFID-enabled cards; though the former may not need RFID protection, carrying them along is equally important too.
#4 Flipping And Staying Open
For 99% of the time, traditional leather wallets are folded in half. With the many cards in your possession, you will definitely need an RFID-blocking wallet that stays open as you sort through.
The best wallets on the market can flip open and stay that way by a press of a button. No rush sorting through your cards as you can flip through without the risk of dropping them out. This easy access and placement of cards improve convenience without compromising your privacy.
#5 Does It Lock Shut?
As one of the most important features of an RFID-blocking wallet, it should lock shut every time you’re not using it; even the slightest opening can allow powerful RFID readers scan through your cards quickly.
By automatically locking itself when flipped shut, a good wallet should secure all your cards and cash, preventing them from falling out accidentally. If you are weary of sitting on and breaking your important plastic, look for the super durable polycarbonate designs; they can withstand your weight without giving in.
#6 Intuitive Access To Cash And Cards
We all hate looking like fools at the checkout line, trying to wedge out a card from the depths of our wallets. As you shop for a new RFID-blocking wallet, it would be best to settle for one that allows you easy access to your cards and cash.
The best designs on the market allow you to flip through cards and cash as if you were dealing Blackjack! This is not only very classy but also allows you to count your cash without taking it out of the wallet.
#7 Bright, Distinct Colors
If you’re like most people, finding your car keys and wallet before leaving the house might be your most challenging tasks. If you frequently camp or go on the hiking trail, you also need a bright colored RFID-blocking wallet; should it get lost, it’s easier to find.
How Else Can You Secure Your Cards?
Once you purchase your RFID-blocking wallet, you are in the clear as far as card skimming goes. However, there’s a growing need to implement even more protection strategies, just to be absolutely sure your identity and money are safe.
Shop Securely Online
In an age where we virtually do all our shopping online, scammers have come in their hordes and are almost undetectable. To be safe, only do business with trusted retailers. Before entering your personal information, ensure the website little lock symbol on the address bar.
Have The Credit Company Contact Information
Credit cards companies’ customer service are quick to block any cards reported to them as stolen. Whenever you notice any mildly suspicious activity with your cards, be prompt in notifying the company. Quick action can save you a lot of agony and money.
Carry Your Wallet In Your Front Pocket
If an identity theft is out to get you, you have a better chance of noticing if they approach from the front. When in your back pocket, your wallet is as good as forgotten and more prone to being electronically pick-pocketed.
Notify Your Card Company Of Travel Dates
As an added safety measure, credit card companies have the mandate to freeze your card should they note its use out-of-town. By informing them of your travels beforehand, your cards will remain active.
When shopping for the best RFID-blocking wallet online, you will be met with a wide variety of choices, all claiming to offer unbreakable protection. While many websites have testimonials vouching for their products, independent testing is hard to come by.
One sure thing about RFID wallets though is, they’re more stylish than wrapping your cards in a noisy aluminum foil. At a first glance, they look like the typical card and passport holders. Under their skin, however, RFID-blocking wallets are built to secure all your personal information.
Have you settled on yours yet? Do you have any questions or additional information you would like to share? Feel free to drop us a note. Cheers!