Wallet choices used to be simple. You could get a bifold, a trifold, or a clutch. More pockets, fewer pockets; leather or synthetic. Flip through Sky Mall on your next flight, though, and you’ll find a new and potentially confusing option: RFID blocking. RFID-blocking wallets and sleeves, like this double layer protector from High Planes Company. These wallets do something more than just keep your cards and money organized. They keep your personal information safe from high-tech thieves.
RFID-blocking wallets are designed to help insulate you from a very particular brand of electronic pickpocketing, called RFID skimming. The concern is that some credit cards, passports, and driver’s licenses now come with embedded radio frequency identification chips. When activated by an RFID reader, these chips transmit certain types of information wirelessly, so that you can verify your identity or even make a purchase without swiping your card. The downside: Anyone with an RFID reader can activate those chips and pick up whatever information they’re designed to transmit. And, if they’re sneaky about it, they can do it without your knowledge.
Hackers have made headlines over the years by demonstrating how a handheld RFID reader can “skim” sensitive information from people’s cards at a distance of several feet. They can get your name and country of origin from your passport. More alarmingly, in some demonstrations, RFID skimmers have collected whole credit card numbers from the pockets of passersby. RFID-blocking wallets are designed to impede your cards’ RFID signals, making them harder to read remotely. Tests by Consumer Reports, MakeUseOf, and others have found that RFID-blocking wallets work better than others.
At the end of the day its all about being safer than sorry. Upgrading to an RFID protecting wallet or money belt will make a real difference. Find a travel wallet or money belt company that can provide a wallet that not only offers great RFID protection, but is also lightweight, slim and comfortable to wear.