In the world of high-tech interactions and magnetized credit card strips, we have access to thousands of dollars at our fingertips – literally. With these advancements in ease and utility, however, comes the startling risk of hands-free theft. Whether you’re at the supermarket’s self-checkout terminal or simply walking through the mall, you’re a potential target for hackers with a knack for lifting credit card information.
With all the technological advancements, renovated security features and an emphasis on consumer safety, how is this even possible? Perhaps more importantly, what can you do to prevent it?
RFID, or radio frequency identification, is the root of the modern credit card’s usability. As the name suggests, it allows the card to carry its own radio signature, thus enabling it for use at any number of point-of-sale terminals or card readers. These reading devices recognize your card and withdraw funds, and the majority of major banks claim that their card’s RFID chip comes with protection, such as encryption or a non-reusable code exchange between the card and machine.
In theory, RFID is one of the most advanced and reliable methods of rapid transaction exchange. In practice, however, it’s vulnerable to “skimming” by those with the appropriate hardware. Much like a legitimate card reader, some hackers can read – and steal – your credit card’s information.
One of the best and most passive methods of RFID protection is the RFID-blocking wallet, which protects you whether or not you’re in the process of making your purchase.
These wallets are designed to prevent the free exchange of RFID signals between your card and any “skimming” readers in the area, which will keep your information tucked away and hidden from prying eyes. RFID-blocking wallets are designed with an interior shield of metal, typically aluminum or nickel, which interrupts the radio waves.
Commercially-available models offer the best quality and assurance of information protection, but potential buyers can observe the wallet’s basic function and effectiveness by placing aluminum foil around their card.
RFID-blocking wallets come in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and general designs, but they’re all engineered to protect your data and serve an everyday, practical function as well. These wallets can be purchased at nearly any budget, but all of their prices fall well below the cost of a compromised credit card.
It is important to note though that not all RFID-blocking wallets are made equal; some wallets are better at protecting you from identity theft than others. Additionally, you should be aware that even the most effective RFID-blocking wallets have the potential to fail, whether due to age or user error. RFID-blocking wallet can improve safety however it’s not a replacement for safe habits and the necessity for exercising caution.