There is no doubt that technology has brought us great benefits. Unfortunately, however, technology can also be used against us. Using malicious digital technology, hackers can now steal from your minimalist wallet without even touching it. Luckily, there is an easy and reliable way to prevent this from happening: Keeping your credit cards in an RFID wallet.
What is RFID Wallet?
Put simply, an RFID wallet blocks RFID signals from reaching your credit cards. When successfully used, malicious RFID can scan your information, allowing technologically-savvy thieves to access your bank accounts.
Taking into account the potential danger of RFID theft, it’s easy to see the value of a device that prevents it from happening. In order to fully understand the importance of RFID wallets, however, it’s important to learn the basics of RFID-blocking technology.
What is RFID?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It’s a signal that travels through an electromagnetic field in order to identify and interact with objects that have the right RFID tags. Typically, these objects contain digitally-stored information that is often sensitive in nature. RFID is used in many industries. Most people, however, use RFID through their credit and debit cards.
What is RFID Skimming?
You may have heard terms such as RFID skimming or digital theft. Using RFID-scanning technology, malicious actors can gain access to your credit cards and other documents that store electronic information. RFID skimming, specifically, is a term that refers to the act of illegally installing an RFID reading device in an ATM to steal important information and make criminal transactions.
Unfortunately, over the past 20 years or so, this pernicious phenomenon has only been getting worse. As a matter of fact, in 2017, the Identity Theft Resource Center stated that the United States hit a new record of 1579 breaches through RFID skimming. These breaches exposed more than 171 million organizational and customer records. Worldwide, the losses caused by this type of theft have been calculated to be over 15 billion dollars.
How does RFID-Blocking Technology Work?
As its name so clearly indicates, RFID-blocking technology works by preventing RFID signals from being picked up and read by certain devices. By preventing the microchip in the RFID card from being picked up, RFID-blocking technology such as that found in RFID wallets keeps your data safe.
RFID technology is used in contactless payment cards, ID cards, passports and various other information-storing devices. In order to function, most documents and information-storing devices with RFID capabilities use a 13.56 MHz frequency. On the other hand, RFID-compatible objects such as security passes and digital keys use a 125 kHz frequency in addition to the 13,56 MHz one.
The vast majority of RFID systems are meant to work at short-range (normally a few inches). However, hackers can use powerful devices known as RFID readers to access your credit card’s information from a distance of over 30 meters. For that reason, many manufacturers of wallets and other safe-keeping objects use RFID-blocking technology in their designs.
RFID-blocking technology can be active or passive. Passive RFID technology consists of shields or protectors that are capable of absorbing or deflect an RFID signal, ensuring it won’t reach the card’s microchip.
On the other hand, active RFID technology consists of shields or protectors that continuously send out a signal that interferes and scrambles all RFID signals in the device’s immediate vicinity. This will either confuse the RFID credit card reader or drain the power of its signal, preventing it from obtaining your information.
What is an RFID-Enabled Credit Card?
RFID-enabled credit cards are those that feature a contactless data transmission process. As a result, they do not require any type of physical contact between the card and a card-reading device. Instead, using a signal that is in the 13.56-MHz frequency spectrum, RFID-enabled credit cards can be read remotely by a compatible device. They accomplish this by sending a signal with data through the air over a short distance.
An RFID-enabled credit card’s signal can go through certain types of materials, including those that make up your clothing and even your wallet. Because they stay in the consumer’s possession during the entire transaction, RFID-enabled credit and debit cards are more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards. It must be mentioned, however, that not all ATM machines are compatible with this technology. What is worse, RFID-enabled credit cards can still be accessed remotely using an RFID credit card reader.
Taking into account the potential dangers of digital theft, it is only reasonable and responsible to want to protect yourself as much as possible. You can never be too cautious, particularly when it comes to your personal information and your money. Without a doubt, getting an RFID wallet is a step in the right direction.