Guest Article by Alayna Pehrson – Digital Marketing Strategist at BestCompany.com
Although Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been around for many years—dating back to World War II—the idea of RFID technology leading to identity theft and credit card theft continues to frighten the public. Part of this fear is due to the lack of RFID knowledge and education as well as the general increase in identity theft crimes.
What is RFID technology?
RFID can be found embedded in some credit cards, passports, and even some driver’s licenses. When this technology was placed inside of important handheld items like credit cards, it was designed to make a person’s life easier. For instance, RFID technology was meant to make smaller, everyday purchases such as toll payments easier by sending radio signals to the RFID sensor chips on things like credit cards in order to permit faster identification and authorization without contact.
What is RFID skimming?
Advances in technology can introduce some negative consequences. The negative side of RFID technology is its lack of protection. There is no way to stop or cease the radio wave signals that are transmitted between a reader and a person’s credit card or passport. Therefore, information that is stored on an RFID embedded item can be easily stolen from several feet away if an RFID reader is put into the wrong hands. The act of wireless identity theft and credit card theft using an RFID reader is called RFID skimming. The fact that this form of theft is so simple and easy to execute causes many people to live in fear.
What does an RFID blocking wallet do?
RFID blocking wallet technology turned the tables, as it gave people a way to interrupt radio wave signals between a reader and the RFID embedded items. RFID blocking wallets create an electromagnetic-repelling shield that surrounds the items inside the wallet. This shield effectively stops reader users from committing identity theft and credit card crimes. Although RFID blocking technology has been around for a while, RFID blocking wallets continue to be a popular item among online shoppers.
Do I need a RFID blocking wallet?
RFID blocking wallets are not as vital as they may appear simply because of how rarely RFID technology is currently used in credit cards and other important handheld items. In fact, the number of credit cards issued with RFID is less than one percent in the United States. Purchasing an RFID blocking wallet might not be completely necessary, but it still doesn’t hurt to take extra precaution. Even though the likelihood of becoming a victim of RFID skimming or credit card shimming is slim in the United States, RFID crime is still fairly prevalent in other countries. Getting an RFID blocking wallet might be a good idea for those moving out of the United States and for those who are issued a credit card with embedded RFID technology.
What should I worry about?
Although RFID technology isn’t a large threat to Americans, identity theft is. In 2016, 15.4 million people were victims of identity theft, and the numbers continue to rise. The advancement of online technology has introduced constant data threats worldwide. Victims of identity theft often experience a loss of money, negative impacts on their credit scores, account consequences, etc. It’s important to do your research on the latest data breaches and identity theft crime trends, and seriously consider getting professional protection and monitoring.
If you’re concerned about your identity being stolen, learn about your options here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.