Over the past few years, as credit cards and card readers have tried to become safer against identity theft, the new cards, which use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, are, perhaps ironically, to be opening up new avenues for identity theft. The solution, according to many retailers, is the purchase of an RFID-blocking wallet.
Apparently, an RFID-blocking wallet has the ability to block the information on the little RFID chips on your credit and debit cards from being picked up by crooks walking around with chip readers. And let’s be clear, RFID cards are here to stay. In 2015, RFID tech was a $10 billion/year industry. It’s already expanded to $13 billion/year.
What is RFID and Why Do You Need Protection From It?
RFID technology uses low-power radio waves to read and obtain the information that is kept on a tag, like those that are attached to your credit and debit cards, and even your modern passport. That tag gives the card its unique “identity,” to differentiate all other cards.
These days, all of your credit and debit cards come with an RFID tag. While this chip/tag does help keep you and others safe when used with authorized merchants and banks when you buy things, it is possible for thieves to carry around an RFID reader to steal identity information, in addition to card numbers and expiration dates.
Now, you may be thinking it’s a terrifying world we have created for ourselves, but n matter what you think, that’s the reality surrounding our use of cards and other conveniences surrounding our financial lives.
And it is true that anyone with the technology to read these RFID tags can find out all kinds of information from several feet away. Again, these are radio waves, so there’s no need to scan it through a physical reader. The card or cards don’t have to be right next to the reader.
RFID Technology is Everywhere Now
You are probably not aware of it, but RFID tags are being used for many purposes. As noted, they are used in passports and to replace many other travel documents. They are also used to track pets, so that lost dogs and cats get back to their owners. They are used to track people, like children or elderly patients, so they can be returned home.
RFID is also used heavily in healthcare data management, and the Postal Service uses them to track packages. Hotels and motels also use them RFID tags are very convenient; they use no batteries or other power to operate and they can be reprogrammed instantly.
The technology can, and often is, used to track virtually anything. RFID can be used to start your car and to open your hotel room. You can buy little tags online that you can attach to anything and find it with a smartphone app if you lose it. Offices have been using RFID to only allow authorized personnel from getting in.
Put simply, RFID tags, including those in your credit and debit cards, are not going anywhere; they have too many uses.
So, How Do RFID-Blocking Wallets Work?
If you consider the many uses of RFID technology, it is clear that it has a few major downsides, starting with the fact that anyone with a reader handy can access everything programmed onto a tag. They can scan the tags from several feet away, which means a thief doesn’t have to take your wallet and cards to rob you blind. The slution is in the form of RFID Wallets.
Luckily, one of the best ways to protect yourself and your information is by keeping your cards in a wallet that has been specially made to block all RFIS signals. They look like regular wallets in every way, but they are made with materials that will block all RFID technology.