RFID, Travel, Wallet Cases

Don’t Leave Without It: Why RFID Travel Wallets Are The New Normal

The world we live in has completely changed.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve learned at least a little about how important personal security is.

You keep a password on your computer (and it’s no longer “Bob123”).

You pay a comparatively small monthly fee for an identity theft protection service such as Lifelock.

And you would never give out your credit card number to a stranger.

Except you might as well be doing the last one if you travel without an RFID-blocking wallet.

How Can a Criminal Steal My Information Wirelessly?

Airports, bus stations, and hotels are hotspots for cyber criminals looking to make a quick buck from your credit card number, social security number, and good name.

With specialized but surprisingly easy-to-obtain equipment, a criminal can actually scan the contents of your wallet and extract your personal information. Whether they’re a 45 year old veteran hacker or a teenager seeing what they can get away with, it’s almost impossible to know if you’ve been scanned until the negative ramifications start to roll in.

This is because of the proliferation of RFID chip technology. RFID chips are found in credit cards, your U.S. passport, metro cards, and more. The one thing these cards hold in common is that you almost always take them with you when you travel, whether it’s on your commute to work or to the airport for a vacation.

How Does RFID Transmit My Personal Data?

RFID chips use radio waves to transmit data. A small electromagnetic field allows someone with an RFID reader to “scan” the data held on the chip. Which is quite a convenience when you’re allowing an approved person to scan the card, but turns out to be a security nightmare because it turns out that someone doesn’t actually need your consent to scan an RFID chip.

All they need is proximity.

Called “RFID skimming” by black hat hackers and criminals, a person equipped with an RFID scanner needs to only stand still while a crowd walks by. Later, he or she checks their data to see what they “skimmed.”

When you’re traveling through major airports like LAX or DFW, you’re walking past thousands of people. The statistical likelihood that one of them has malicious intent and rudimentary technological know-how is fairly high.

How to Protect Your Information While Traveling

In the same way that you would never leave your home without locking the door, it is possible to protect yourself from RFID scanning criminals. In a sense, you can “lock the door” to your wallet.

RFID travel wallets have become incredibly popular in recent years thanks to rising concerns about identity theft and credit card fraud. These wallets are specifically designed to block the always-on RFID signal coming from your cards.

Here’s the good news: RFID radio waves are relatively easy to interrupt. This means that specialized travel wallets aren’t expensive because they aren’t terribly complex to manufacture, and they’re available in all different sizes, colors, and appearances. Nobody will know you have an RFID-blocking wallet, because on the outside they look exactly like any other wallet.

Inside the wallet is a specialized mesh that acts as a Faraday cage. It’s essentially a flexible construction designed to block radio waves of any kind, including the ones that can transmit your personal data.

Are RFID Travel Wallets Worth It?

Considering that basic wallets can be purchased for around ten dollars, we like to think so. A very low cost can prevent the life-disrupting devastation of credit card fraud and/or identity theft.

Ultimately it’s your decision to make, but if you want to keep your personal information safe on your next trip out of the house, RFID travel wallets are an easy and affordable way to do so.

Safe travels to you and your credit cards!