WHAT IS RFID? RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. The acronym is used in reference to small electronic devices composed of a small chip and antenna. This chip provides a unique identifier for that object and can be scanned to retrieve the identifying information.
WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU? It’s a modern world and access to advances in technology that create conveniences are instantaneous. TheRFID chip is one example. With a wave of your card, wallet or key-chain, RFID enables us to complete speedier purchases, bypassing lengthy ID procedures. Given the technology’s speed and ease to communicate information, RFID devices are now incorporated into credit cards and passports, without the requisite consumer data protected.
Information that can be obtained from these chips include: name, billing address, cc number, exp date, csv/cvv, personal passport data. This information is not protected and can be accessed without the owner’s knowledge or authorization.
There’s some seriously scary stuff out there in the world — from bird flu and terrorism to depleting our planet of natural resources. There’s not a lot that the average person can do about much of the things that may keep us up at night.
Imagine if you will, some of these possible real-life scenarios:
A shadowy character crouches unseen in the bushes. He doesn’t have a gun or a knife, but he has a laptop. He watches as his prey walks by. Invisible radio waves emitting from the credit-card in his wallet get picked up by the laptop, recorded, and saved onto a cloned card. For all intents and purposes, this man becomes you, and has decided to go shopping.
Or maybe he picked up the passkey that lets you into your office building. With ease, he can now walk into your secure office building and steal your company’s equipment. The next morning, security guards are waiting in your cube to have a chat.
The nightmare scenario was brought forth recently – a bomb lies waiting in a garbage can. Sensitive electronics read the identification cards and passports of the people who walk by, waiting until somebody of your nationality comes close…
You see, The Radio Frequency ID ( RFID ) chip in a credit or debit card emits the account number, expiration date and other information, that can be used by people with bad intention with any kind of bad intention act.
There are several ways that we can somehow lower the risks.
- Leave the RFID credit cards at home and use the card for only online purchases and have another credit card without the RFID tag or simply use cash for outside purchases.
- Wrapping the RFID cards in aluminum foil before putting them in your wallet or purchasing a protective sleeve can help block RFID scanners from reading the card. Credit card shields can also be purchased that also use an aluminum type material.
- If a separate protective shield is not desired, one can consider a special wallet, such as DataSafe wallet. These special wallets are manufactured with materials that have been approved by the Government Services Administration to block RFID transactions.
- Monitoring credit card statements on a regular basis for errors or unknown charges can help detect purchases you did not make. Credit card fraud and identity theft can occur even if one takes high precaution, however; monitoring statements regularly can help mitigate this risk.
Hope your wallets are safe out there.