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RFID Blocking- Protecting Your Identity & Personal Information

Technology has always been a double-edged sword. Tech-savvy thieves can now silently download your personal credit card information and ID data with handheld "skimming" devices. These modern day pick-pockets can access your personal information without you knowing it. They do it through your wallet or purse. RFID blocking gear protects you from identity theft by blocking these electronic pickpockets. See our extensive collection of RFID blocking travel wallets, bags and gear.

What is RFID and Why do I Need to Block it?

 

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification Devices. Today they are found in passports and credit cards as wafer thin chips to help speed up transactions. They store and transmit your account information plus personal details. Handheld scanners (which thieves can easily come by) can read these chips through wallets and clothing up to several feet away. It is a form of electronic pickpocketing or identity theft. Newly issued credit cards, passports, and other IDs have embedded RFID chips.

Identity theft via RFID readers is growing. You can protect your personal data with the use of RFID blocking wallets and RFID blocking passport covers. These items contain a metal fiber mesh that makes a "cage" around the chip that radio waves cannot penetrate.

About 200 million credit and identification cards now have RFID technology embedded into them. All US Passports have RFID chips in them. The chip contains all the data that is on the first page of  your passport including your photo. A growing number of states (New York, Michigan, Washington, Vermont) are now issuing special driver’s licenses “enhanced” with long range RFID chips.

How Does RFID Work?

RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, is the technology that lets you simply wave your credit or identification card, passport or license in front of a nearby scanner instead of having to slide the magnetic stripe through it. The electronic scanner sends a signal which is received by an antenna embedded into the card, which is connected to the card’s RFID chip, thus activating it. Unfortunately, criminals with minimal technical skills can construct their own RFID readers with a few simple supplies. These devices can steal your private financial information quickly and silently— all the perpetrator needs to do is come near your wallet with the hidden card reader. You wouldn't know it at all.

Does my Card Have a RFID Chip?

If your card is equipped with PayWave or blink, indicated by a logo on the front or back of the card, then it has a RFID chip embedded in it. The absence of a PayPass logo, however, does not mean that your card does not have a RFID chip—call the customer service number on the back of your card to verify if your card is RFID chipped. If you cannot get an answer from your bank you should protect your cards anyway to ensure that you do not fall victim to identity theft.  Imagine how the theft of your identity while traveling could negatively impact your trip! You should be concerned if you carry an American Express Card, Visa, Discover, MasterCard or a passport.

How to Determine if Your US Passport Has the RFID Chip

Only e-passports have been issued since October 2006. While older passports are still valid, when they expire, they will be replaced with the new e-passport. The cover to the right is a photograph of what the new cover of the US e-passport which contains the RFID chip looks like. Note the logo on the bottom of the cover.

US Passport with rfid icon

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How You Can Guard Against Identity Theft and Electronic Pickpocketing

To prevent identity theft, you must vigilantly guard your personal information. Thoroughly shred all bank statements before recycling them, and cut up your credit cards. Be careful not to email your credit card information and only submit your credit card information over secured servers with established and trusted companies. Most importantly, make sure you guard your credit cards against unauthorized RFID readers. Use a secure wallet or place a RFID blocking insert into your favorite wallet to upgrade it.  For your peace of mind, see all the RFID blocking options available to you.

Questions About RFID Technology 

 

Will the RFID material wear out?  

No, it is designed to last for years of use.

The RFID material in the wallet looks like paper.

It looks like paper because it is paper. But layered in between two external coats of paper is a very thin metallic layer of the patented FIPS 201 approved RFID shielding material.
  
Can a RFID signal go through things like leather, vinyl, and clothing?

Yes, that is exactly why the RFID shield is a smart security precaution.
    
How far away can a smart credit card embedded with a RFID chip be read?

Some reports have shown that information can be "skimmed" from up to 30 feet away. That is rare, up to 10 ft is more common.
 
Who is most vulnerable to this type of ID theft?

Travelers and people who live in urban areas and frequent public places like coffee shops, airports or commuter trains,are at the greatest risk for falling victim to theft by RFID scanner 

 

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