Protect Yourself from Electronic Pickpocketing with RFID Blocking

Posted by Tolga Akbal on

RFID (radio frequency identification) is a form of wireless communication that uses radiofrequency waves to transfer data without requiring physical contact. One of the most widely used areas of RFID technology is banking transactions, more specifically, credit card payments. Not a single day passes that we don’t meet a new wireless technology in our lives. Near-field communication used in RFID technology is one of those new technologies, used specifically in credit cards as embedded chips, which enables the cardholders to make payments simply by bringing their card close to contactless payment terminals (card readers) within a few centimeters. You don’t have to swipe your card or insert it into a card reader to complete your transaction. The use of RFID is not, of course, limited to banking applications. Most smartphones are already equipped with this new technology. I am sure most of us are familiar with “mobile wallets” like Samsung Pay, Google Pay or Apple Pay using this contactless payment technology. Moreover, newly issued passports and most ID cards have also this technology, so protecting your personal data is becoming a more serious aspect to be given attention.

Although technology has been developed to make our lives easier, there are always those who abuse it. Just as mail, commerce or banking has become e-mail, e-commerce, or e-banking, pickpocketing has transformed into its electronic version as electronic pickpocketing as well. When you experience classic pickpocketing, you can often notice it during the event, but electronic pickpocketing is even more dangerous in this sense since you may not even notice that you have been through e-pickpocketing after hours, days, or even months. How do they do it? It’s pretty simple; all they need is more powerful versions of the card readers (scanners). Worst of all, these electronic thieves can buy these devices online for under $100. They don’t even have to make any physical contact with you to steal your card information, just standing nearby (up to 10 ft) would be enough for them to complete their malicious act.

So, the question is how we can protect ourselves against this modern age theft? RFID Blocking comes to our rescue at this point. Manufacturers started to produce wallets that have built-in RFID blocking shields that prevent data transfer between a card (credit card, ID card, passport, even some driver’s license) and an electronic card reader. We can maybe consider this as making cards electromagnetically opaque by creating some sort of camouflage around it. Nowadays, there is an increasing trend that focuses on minimizing our needs. The old-fashion bulky purses or handbags are replaced by multi-functional items such as wallet phone cases by which you can carry your personal cards (either credit cards or ID cards), your phones and even a limited amount of cash. Thus, protecting your wallet phone cases against electronic pickpocketing is something you can’t ignore since all your digital data are embedded into your credit or ID cards. You have to take all necessary measures not to let high tech-thieves steal your valuable information. From now on, look for the products that have an RFID Blocking feature when you need a phone case. Indeed, consider replacing your old phone cases with those having RFID Blocking feature before it is too late!

But keep in mind that none of these RFID Blocking devices has the same efficiency. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of even the most powerful devices warn us that their products can’t provide 100% protection. Just be alert around your surroundings without being paranoid.

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