If you knew that someone could read your credit cards, passport, and even driver’s license without actually having to swipe them or look at them, would you take steps to guard against it? I know I would. Unfortunately, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology used to track sensitive data in many of today’s portable identifiers (e.g. cards) can be easily scanned without you ever knowing.
It’s a scary thought to entertain and if it bothers you, keep reading to find out what you can do about it.
Why Use An RFID Blocking Wallet?
As it stands right now, most credit cards and debit cards issued within the past decade have RFID technology embedded in them. All US passports issued in 2006 and later have RFID chips that track your data and photo. RFID chips are a convenient way to store and read data – instead of having to swipe your card through a reader, you can simply wave your card in front of an RFID scanner without even taking it out of your wallet. It’s convenience at its best.
Unfortunately, the danger is that someone could build a counterfeit reader – which wouldn’t be too difficult for anyone who has experience in that field – and pick up your RFID information against your will. It’s similar to one of the risks in an NFC device , which requires a close-up bump” to trigger a transaction. Counterfeit card readers existed before RFID, but they require you to physically swipe your card through a slot; counterfeit RFID readers can pull or delete data without so much as you walking by.
Angela listed some tips on how to stay safe against hacked RFID chips , and she mentioned RFID-blocking sleeves, pouches, and wallets. A proper RFID blocker will utilize something called a Faraday cage and the specification you want to look for is electromagnetically opaque. These RFID blockers will prevent illegitimate reading of your RFID-embedded objects.
Not all RFID blocking wallets are made equal; some are more effective than others. In addition, even the most effective RFID-blocking wallets can fail, whether due to wear and tear or user error. These products will help keep you safe, but they are no replacement for safe habits and exercising caution.
As Guy mentioned in his post on blocking RFID chips , an Altoids can is actually somewhat effective as a Faraday cage. Lifehacker expanded on the idea, claiming that an Altoids can was successful in blocking the scanning of an RFID-embedded security badge. The length of time didn’t matter; it didn’t scan. But once the can was opened, the scan worked from inches away.
Now, obviously the definition of stylish will differ from person to person. You may like nylon while another finds it horribly outdated, while someone else might prefer crocodile leather which you might think is too loud. With that said, spiffy-looking RFID-blocking wallets can be hard to find in general, so here’s what I could dig up for you.
RFID-blocking wallets will increase the security of your RFID-embedded cards, but they aren’t foolproof solutions. The best way to stay protected against rogue RFID scanners is to minimize your reliance on RFID-enabled tools; abstinence really is the only guaranteed protection. But if you can’t find a way around it, then you can safeguard your cards with the wallets listed above.