In the past buying, a wallet was much simpler, you had to find a wallet that would hold all you require and looked aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore due to identity theft and credit card skimming. With a rise in credit card skimming a new invention has been created to try and combat the problem: an RFID blocking wallet.
RFID blocking wallets have been designed to intercept radio frequency readers especially those operating at 13.56MHz, the frequency of RFID enabled contactless credit cards. To help you protect yourself this article answers how your RFID-enabled credit cards are vulnerable to RFID skimming and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
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What is credit card skimming?
Card skimming is a form of identity theft where an unauthorized person gets hold of your card details using an RFID-enabled reader near your credit cards. A card skimmer is a small electrical device like that of a card machine you get in Walmart. The problem is that these devices can be a lot smaller and not noticeable at a glance.
RFID skimming is a larger problem than most people realize, CNBC has reported that skimming has cost people over $2 billion globally. A video by Inside Edition highlights how easy is it is to have your credit cards skimmed while in public.
Why worry about credit card skimming
With the ever-increasing use of contactless credit card transactions, the risk of identity theft via RFID skimming will only increase. In the UK contactless cards have been around for some time, in the first half of 2016 almost $7m was stolen (Source: Telegraph). Contactless payments are typically limited below $100, and if someone were to try and skim your card there is a chance they will. If you notice you’ve been skimmed you typically can get your money back but this can require a lot of effort.
How to protect yourself from credit card skimming
The first thing to do is be aware of electronic pickpockets but unfortunately, they aren’t the easiest to spot. What you need to do is be aware of the people around you and watch out for anyone who is acting suspiciously.
The second thing to do is only carry your credit cards on you when you need them. The more you have your RFID -enabled cards on you, the more likely you are to get your card skimmed. If you are carrying your cards in a bag, store the cards as close to the center as possible. This is because RFID cards only have a small reading range and being in the middle of a bag makes the cards a lot harder to be skimmed.
The last and most important tip is. When carrying your cards always use an RFID wallet, sleeve, card, or purse. These items give you the best protection as it makes the task of skimming a card much more difficult.
What is RFID Blocking
An RFID Blocking wallet is purposely designed to keep your RFID-enabled credit cards safe. Minimizing the risk of getting your card skimmed by any potential thieves. It is advised by many travel guides to use RFID jamming technology, especially while traveling. These wallets use a Faraday cage to create a virtual shield around your credit cards, protecting them from radiofrequency reading devices.
How do RFID Blocking Wallets Work
RFID, which operates your credit cards stands for Radio Frequency Identification. For shops to take payment they use machines that read the RFID chips of your card. This is exactly what card skimmers do.
Radio waves have a low frequency and a long wavelength, which means that they have low energy levels. Having a low energy level means they have low penetration levels, so can be blocked relatively easily.
An RFID Blocking wallet works like a Faraday cage. The RFID blocking wallet, purse, and card sleeves utilize an outer cage-like structure made from a conductive material. This shields the contents from electromagnetic waves and creates an insulated internal space.
Do RFID Blocking Wallets Work
In short yes they do work. In reality, some work better than others due to the design structure of the conductive materials. Some products have a better blocking ability due to material selection and material coverage. For this reason, we are showing you the best RFID blocking products.
Best RFID Blocking Products
Men’s Mt Eston RFID Blocking Men’s Leather Wallet
For me, this wallet is in a league of its own and truly deserves the title of best RFID blocking wallet. It offers great protection from card skimmers and is made from top-quality leather with brilliant stitching. This wallet impressed me so much that it has become my personal wallet which I use every day. See our full men’s wallet review here.
Women’s Fossil Emma RFID Zip Wallet
Fossil has a history of making top-quality goods, the Emma range of wallet is no exception. It is a larger purse than some competitors holding 12 cards and made from great quality leather. There is a zipper change compartment on the back of the wallet which stores plenty of coins, it is easy to use and not as tight as most competitors. See our full women’s wallet review here.
RFID Blocking Card
Signal Red is our RFID Blocking card of choice, they offer great blocking ability for all devices operating on 13.56MHz, manufactured to a high standard while maintaining a competitive price. See our full RFID blocking card review here.
RFID Blocking Sleeves
If you aren’t wanting the size of an RFID Blocking wallet but are still wanting your cards to be protected, then a sleeve may be perfect for you. These are slim, lightweight, and great for stopping card skimmers.
For a full RFID blocking sleeve review check out this article.
Alpine Rivers offer the best sleeves on the market, and when bought you receive 14 cardholders and 4 passport protectors.
One thing to be careful of when using these card sleeves is the card can start to imprint the details onto the sleeve. This should only occur if pressure is applied to the sleeve, so I wouldn’t regularly use these when storing the card in a wallet.
Overall these RFID blocking sleeves are great especially when trying to travel light. I really recommend Alpine Rivers.
Hopefully, this article has given you as much information on credit card skimming and how to stop skimming as you require. Another set of RFID products you may have which are subject to theft is your vehicle fob, and more importantly your vehicle. Theft of vehicles via Relay attack has increased drastically over the last few years. While vehicle manufacturers’ safety is lacking, to help stop relay attacks please check out this page.
If you have any questions on RFID blocking wallets, recommendations, or anything else then please contact me via my contact page.
Product Review Lad
The answer to this question depends on the wallet. Most RFID blocking wallet materials only block 13.56MHz, some block between approximately 10-30MHz. As Bluetooth operates at a much higher frequency of 2.45GHz most wallets do not block Bluetooth.
If you’re looking for an RFID blocking wallet to stop Bluetooth signals then Mt Eston would be the wallet of choice as these block frequencies between 10MHz to 3GHz. Mt Eston provides the best wallet on the market with amazing quality and blocking abilities.
RFID blocking means that something has the ability to stop Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). Some devices such as contactless credit cards, book scanners in libraries, and parts stored in manufacturing facilities use RFID to identify linked information. For example bank account numbers and sort codes, RFID blocking stops this information from being visible.
In short, leather partially blocks RFID. RFID has a relatively short range of several centimeters, leather helps create a shield that slightly reduces this distance. To be able to fully block RFID signals a faraday cage is required. All RFID blocking wallets have a form of Faraday cage within them.
Most wallets use an aluminum foil-like material with a mixture of copper and aluminum, this is covered with a synthetic material usually Tyvek. This blocking foil is sewn into the inside of the wallet and is not visible.
A contactless credit card is a standard bank card that uses RFID chips to enable touch-less card payments via radio frequency identification. RFID chips transfer your card details to a card reader enabling payment to be taken.