In the old days, if someone wanted to steal your credit card information, they would have to take your wallet and get a look at the card itself. With the evolution of technology, though, thieves have developed new ways of stealing credit card information. From intercepting emails to hacking your computer, all the way to compromising actual in-store payment terminals (as hackers did in the Target data breach from a few years ago), it’s easy to feel like your credit card information is more vulnerable today than ever before. RFID technology has only provided identity thieves with one more way of accessing the credit card information of unknowing victims. So, what is RFID protection?
What is RFID?
RFID is an acronym that stands for “radio frequency identification.” RFID Journal defines RFID succinctly as “a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects.” Essentially, in any RFID system, there is a “tag” and a “reader.” The tag consists of a microchip and an antenna while the RFID reader is a device that sends out electromagnetic waves more or less searching for a tag to read. When the tag and the reader are close to one another, the antenna from the tag will receive the electromagnetic waves being transmitted by the reader. In such a scenario, the field of electromagnetic waves will actually provide power to the microchip in the RFID tag. According to RFID Journal, the final step involves the microchip “modulating” the electromagnetic waves and sending them back to the reader, which can then take those altered waves and translate it into actual identifying data.
RFID Technology and Credit Cards
What does all of this have to do with credit cards, you may ask? Well, many modern credit cards allow for “pay wave” or other similar features, where you don’t have to scan your card to make a payment. Instead, you can move your card close to a payment terminal, which will identify your card and receive a transaction code to receive your payment. If you have a card that works in this fashion, you can thank RFID technology. Your card actually has a tiny microchip and antenna (or an RFID tag) that is activated by an RFID reader (increasingly common in retail payment terminals). This system allows for quicker and more convenient payment transactions.
Unfortunately, while simply waving your credit or debit card in front of a payment terminal might make you feel like you are living in a futuristic movie, there are drawbacks to using RFID technology for payment purposes. If your card has a microchip that is activated by proximity to a payment terminal, then there is also a possibility that it could be compromised by other, shall we say, less official RFID readers.
Indeed, some identity thieves are now armed with RFID scanners or readers that they can use to steal your credit card information without you even taking your card out of your wallet or your wallet out of your pocket. Not every card equipped with an RFID tag is vulnerable to such an attack: some credit card companies use better encryption than others, for instance. It’s also worth noting that, while card information can be stolen using RFID technology, RFID readers aren’t exactly devices that every thief has in his or her possession. Still, though, if you have a microchip-enabled card, there is a chance that you—or your card company—has traded security for next-gen convenience.
Protecting Yourself Against RFID Interception
The question is, beyond purposefully avoiding any credit or debit cards that include an RFID tag, how can you protect yourself and make it impossible for thieves to steal your card information?
Luckily, manufacturers of wallets, money belts and even phone cases are stepping up to design products that create an impregnable fortress around your cards. These wallets and cases are outfitted with a built-in “shield” of sorts that blocks all electromagnetic RFID signals from reaching the antenna and microchip on your phone. This shield makes it impossible for anyone to scan or steal your credit card information while it is tucked inside your wallet. Since credit cards aren’t the only items being outfitted with RFID tags—on the contrary, RFID technology is also becoming popular for passports and other forms of personal identification—an RFID protected wallet seems like the kind of gadget that will soon be a must for just about everyone.
Introducing e-Holster’s RFID-Protected Line of Products!
To keep up with industry trends and provide our customers with a means of protecting themselves against potential identity thieves (or “electronic pickpockets,” as they are sometimes referred to), e-Holster has designed a new line of RFID-protected wallets.
The first, a travel money belt, will allow users to keep their credit cards, debit cards, ID cards, and other belongings strapped to their waste securely and comfortably. The second, a travel neck wallet, allows you to carry your belongings around your neck. Both products include an RFID shield, to prevent remote data theft.
Both products, in addition to implementing RFID protective technology, will feature the same commitment to comfort, quality, and versatility that e-Holster has always observed in designing our products. Whether you are simply looking for a secure way to carry your credit card for an upcoming trip or want an all-in-one solution for transporting your cards, cash, driver’s license, and phone, either one of these new travel wallets will be ideal for you.