cIn this modern age, financial crimes seem to happen everywhere and to everyone. If you’ve ever had your credit card hacked, you already know it can make you want to pull your hair out. While credit card companies do offer some protection for victims, it’s still an alarming (and annoying!) situation to deal with.
First, there’s the panic that ensues when you see the charges you didn’t make and the concern that you might be liable for them. Then there’s the call to the card company to explain that a crime has taken place, plus a wait for the new card to arrive. Afterward, there’s another task — updating all of your payment data for recurring subscriptions. If you only have one credit card, this can be extra frustrating, especially if it happens on a weekend or while you’re traveling.
RFID wallets are designed to safeguard your money by protecting credit cards while you are out and about. But should you get one?
Are You At Risk?
As technology has advanced, so have the devices used to scam people. One of the ways thieves can get their hands on precious financial data is by using a device known as a skimmer, which can read and store credit card information. If your credit card uses radio frequency identification technology — that is, it’s contactless and you can tap it to pay for your purchases — you may be at risk.
The process usually goes unnoticed. It can happen while you’re walking down the street or waiting in a crowded venue. If someone can get within a few feet of you with a reader, and you don’t have it protected in an RFID-blocking wallet, they could steal your data for their own use or to sell.
The truth is that skimming isn’t an everyday occurrence, and con artists have other, less work-intensive ways of getting that information, like through phishing links or telephone scams. Criminals can also purchase credit card details on the dark web for less than $5 each.
Credit card companies have also wised up to the process and shifted gears to produce European-style chip-and-PIN systems, which can’t be skimmed as easily. Cards are generally encrypted, and the RFID chips in most credit cards don’t include enough information to make a transaction.
How RFID Wallets Work
RFID wallets add a layer of protection between your credit card and thieves with skimming devices. While the chance of being a target of an RFID reader scam might seem unlikely, taking a simple step to protect yourself might be worth it.
Experts have mixed opinions on the matter, mostly because the protection only comes in handy if someone is trying to skim, which is likely to be a rare occurrence. The bottom line, though, is that having the added layer of security won’t hurt; it can only help.
RFID-blocking wallets often use a thin liner to block electromagnetic signals, usually made from carbon fiber or aluminum. These work through an electromagnetic closure technology called a Faraday cage, which is basically conductive material that makes credit cards digitally unreadable by canceling the signals made by external electrical fields. You can also look for wallets that cover 125 KHz and 134KHz frequencies to protect against other items, such as hotel keys or ID badges.
Those looking to obtain an RFID-blocking wallet need to be aware that all of these devices are not created equally. Some are more effective than others. Even the most effective can fail due to wear and tear or user error.
The best RFID wallets function like any well-designed wallet; they’re made from rugged, durable material or genuine leather, come equipped with pockets and slots and aren’t bulky to carry around. In the end, having an extra layer of protection might provide you with peace of mind.
If you’re shopping around for a good option, check out our selection of the best RFID wallets available.
Whether or not you use an RFID-blocking wallet, you’ll want to protect yourself in other ways. Make sure to check your credit card reports and credit score regularly for unauthorized activity. Know which scams are out there and take steps to make sure you’re not a victim. Manage your passwords wisely.
If you’ve ever dealt with credit card fraud, having an RFID wallet may make you feel more secure.