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What You Need To Know About Protecting Yourself From Digital Pickpocketing!

As electronics become more prevalent and integrated into our everyday lives so does the vulnerability of theft via RFID chips.  RFID or Radio Frequency Identification, pertains to small chips that use non-contact, wireless radio frequency electro magnetic fields to transfer data.  While you may have never heard of RFID before, chances are you are using them right now.  RFID chips are found in passports, credit cards, pet finders, transportation payments or easy-passes, hospitals, retail stores and a number of other areas where information is needed to be scanned quickly easily for identification.  The important part here is that these RFID chips often carry sensitive, personal information that if exploited could lead to identity or monetary theft.  Because of this criminals are now using machines that can quickly scan, decode and capture your private information for malicious use. What can a criminal steal from an RFID chip?  Let’s look at your passport for example.  In the RFID chip embedded in your passport you have your name, date of birth, place of birth, address, social security number, height, weight and eye color (this can vary based on your country’s specific data).  The data obtained from this RFID chip can be more than enough for someone to open a credit card, book a flight or even create a fake identity.  While governments take excessive measures to prevent theft via RFID scanning or “eavesdropping”, criminals and foreign governments are constantly seeking new ways to bypass them and are often successful.

An even more common form of theft comes from the RFID reading of credit cards.  If your credit card reads “Paypass”, “Zip”, “Paywave” or “Express Pay” then your credit card is embedded with an RFID chip that is designed to speed up your checkout process.  This information can be easily read via a $50 credit card reader picked up on eBay by just about anyone.  This reader stores your credit card number, expiration date and CCV number with a quick pass of your pocket or wallet.  That information is then stored and can be used to make future charges to your card. With an estimated 100 million RFID enabled cards in the system these readers will only become more prevalent and sophisticated.  To make matters worse, criminals are now using technology to up the strength to increase the distance in which they can scan your card to ensure they have good standoff from the scene of the crime.

RFID Scanning Image

Some reports are showing your cards can be scanned from 20-30′ away. So how do you protect yourself from RFID theft?  That’s the tricky part.  Simply placing a credit card in the middle of your wallet or a passport inside your bag will not keep the item from being scanned.  Instead you need an RFID blocking material that can keep the signal from passing through to your personal items. To ensure you are fully protecting your belongings you should look at purchasing an enhanced RFID blocking sleeves or wallets.

There is no doubt that RFID chips and the wave of the future. By 2017 all U.S. passports will contain chips. There is a new method of embedding radio frequency identification chips in paper allowing for “smart” paper to be used in banknotes, legal documents, and tickets. Already the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and the Saudi Arabian treasury are studying chip embed currency.

Bottom line is that it doesn’t cost much to get a RFID protective sleeve or wallet.  It can certainly be a much more painful experience to fix the situation when your card gets cloned or your identity gets compromised.  It just isn’t worth the risk to go unprotected.  Do yourself a favor and protect your personal, financial identity information.


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