The Truth about RFID Wallets

The Truth about RFID Wallets
Authored By Terrence Kelleman 0 Comment(s)

RFID protection is the "tin foil hat" of wallets today.

The "Great RFID Scare" has convinced many customers to pay for something they don't necessarily need, to protect themselves from a crime that's not very prevalent.  

Many years ago when Mighty Wallet was booming in sales customers came to me and asked if I was going to make an “RFID” version of the Mighty Wallet. At the time I knew that RFID was going to be a huge buzzword in the industry but I made an ethical choice as a designer to not add this “technology” to my products. 

Here are some of the reasons why... 

SLATE called RFID Wallets "The Skimming Scam"

RFID-blocking wallets can work. But do you really need one?

NY Times Wirecutter summarized it this way:

We weren’t able to find any credible reports of actual, real-world RFID identity or credit card theft. It may be happening—it would be very hard to precisely identify if it were—but it’s certainly not widespread.

It makes for a nifty demonstration by a hacker, but as Snopes notes, in 2010 the Identity Theft Resource Center had never seen a case—and it still doesn’t recommend RFID protection.

So here’s the deal: in theory the RFID chips that are in your credit cards can be skimmed with a reader without actually touching your wallet or pocket. It’s also called “electronic pickpocketing”. Sounds scary right? 

Before the panic sets in let’s consider a few things;

  1. The distance to the card has to be very close
  2. The information does not include your pin or CSV code
  3. There are very few actual statistics of electronic pickpocketing theft

1 - Don't believe everything you read DYOR!

DYOR is an acronym for "Do Your Own Research"

There’s a great website for sniffing out the fake news called Snopes. They did some research into the truth about RFID wallets and the phenomenon this has had in the media. Become an educated consumer - know the truth!

2 - Stealing your card info is much more difficult than portrayed.

You could be led to think that RFID crime is the easiest theft in the world but consider these facts about RFID technology;

  1. Most RFID chips are now encrypted making the wait at the checkout a bit longer but also completely frustrating thieves who would steal your credit card info.  
  2. Having more than one RFID card makes the data stream a jumbled mess.
  3. The distance a card chip is readable has been greatly reduced by advances in the RFID technology.

3 - Theft from “electronic pickpocketing” is incredibly rare.

In the UK they have had RFID cards much longer than the USA and here’s a quote from a 2016 UK report on credit card theft and fraud.

“Fraud on contactless cards and devices represents just 1.1 per cent of overall card fraud.” and what’s more the amounts of theft are generally very low. 

In contrast - ATM fraud (where your card or a copy of it is used with your pin) went up 32% from 2015 to 2016. 

A quick look at the immediate effect of the EMV migration shows that counterfeit fraud decreased by 27 percent in terms of overall U.S. dollar volume in January 2016 compared to January 2015

But I’m not the only one out there trying to dispel this myth check out these other resources;

All things considered, Privacy and Security
There Are Plenty Of RFID-Blocking Products, But Do You Need Them?

RFID Wallets vs. Aluminum Foil

Money Tips
Why Dropping Cash On RFID-Blocking Tech Is A Waste Of Money

AARP - Scams & Fraud
So far, there's no proof that RFID skimming has been used in identity theft

NY Times Wirecutter
Are RFID-Blocking Wallets Necessary?


A Cheap RIFD Wallet hack that you can do at home

If you’re still freaked out by RFID skimmers do what Consumer Reports suggests and wrap your card or wallet in a thick sheet of Aluminum foil. It works as well as most RFID protectors on the market and it’s why I made this video back in 2011

RFID Proof your wallet - Simple HACK

Seneca once said “time discovers truth” I'm just trying to hurry that along and teach others the truth about RFID Wallets. DYOR!


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