But RDIF-blocking wallets are still a waste of money, writes IDCARE’s Kathy Sundstrom. Photo: File
But RDIF-blocking wallets are still a waste of money, writes IDCARE’s Kathy Sundstrom. Photo: File

Are RFID-blocking wallets worth it?

Have you purchased an RFID-blocking wallet, sleeve or trendy backpack, smug in the self-satisfaction you've done your bit to protect your cards or passport?

Guess what, you've just wasted your money.

It doesn't matter whether you bought the RFID wallet/ sleeve from Kmart, Kathmandu or Bagworld, or if it comes with a "scan shield" or not, they're pretty much the same.

They might look fancy, but they are ineffective at protecting you from credit card fraud or identity theft. You see, RFID technology (which is short for Radio Frequency Identification) has changed.

Buying an RFID-blocking wallet and expecting it to keep you safe from fraud is kind of life trying to stream Spotify through your old record player. It just ain't gonna work.

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RFID technology was first invented by scientist Harry Stockman in, wait for it, 1948. But it is only in the last 20 years that it has gained momentum. It is a revolutionary way to wirelessly transmit your crucial details from a credit card or document from a few centimetres away (and not have to put in the actual numbers).

You can imagine when it was first introduced, hackers thought they'd hit the big time.

All they would need was a skimming machine, which was a little goodie-gadget that could pick up the information on the card or RFID-enabled passport, then they could sit back and collect card numbers and pin codes. And they could do it from varying distances.

This has happened right here on the Sunshine Coast.

The Sunshine Coast Daily has reported numerous occasions where skimmers were found at ATM machines.

But it hasn't led to the large scale compromise of financial accounts or identity documents.

The truth is, IDCARE sees a lot of scams every single day.

But we don't see scams involving RFID skimming.

It just doesn't happen. It is far more cost-effective for a scammer to get you to provide your credit card details over the phone, thinking you are going to get a "refund", than to sit in a dark, dingy corner trying to skim people's cards or run the risk of being caught attaching it a device to an ATM machine.

If you remain worried about the risk of RFID skimming, here's a simple hack.

Cover your cards, passport etc in aluminium foil.

It works far better anyway.

That is, of course, unless you like paying extra for gimmicks.


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