RFID Skimming: What Puts You at Risk and How to Shield Yourself

It’s fantastic to live in a future with communication technology that exceeds projections in scope and power. You have more information and control at your disposal than people even forty years ago could even fathom. 

The technology powering this world keeps getting smaller, and not everyone understands what it can do. The existence of RFID has led many to ask “What is RFID Protection?” 

Anytime you have to wonder about the purpose of technology, you are likely in trouble when you learn how much information it provides without your knowledge. Learning about RFID is important, especially if you number among the 71% of Americans that have at least one banking card with many carrying two or more.

Read on to learn the importance of the RFID tech you carry in your wallet. 

What is RFID Protection?

The simple answer to this question is, of course, the act of protecting RFID transmissions. 

That’s not super helpful until you understand precisely what RFID does and the risks it presents.

RFID Breakdown

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) started larger and has been miniaturizing. You may have heard about this being used in warehouses to help track pallets of materials across the floor.

Each RFID tag was unique and could be picked up at a distance by a scanner. This saved time in hunting down boxes. Since it’s implementation, the chips have gotten smaller; much smaller.

Current chips are small enough that they can be injected into pets to help find them when lost. Your banking and financial cards, passports, and even some state IDs contain wafter-thin RFID chips.

The chips in these cards broadcast information, allowing scanners at a counter to quickly read details, enabling tap-to-pay transactions, and speeding up entrance through an airport. 

Additional Resource: Credit Card Comparison Tool

RFID Skimming

Since the chip in these cards isn’t powered, it’s set to respond to scanning impulses. A signal is sent to the chip, which then activates and broadcasts pertinent information.

For a criminal with a mind toward information theft, this becomes a prime target. They can employ wide-area scanners that work at range to activate cards as they walk through a crowd. 

The information is encrypted in many instances but that only helps so much.

Defense Techniques

The information broadcast by the RFID in a card isn’t always well hidden.

Putting your wallet in a separate pocket does foil some scanners, which have a narrow band and scan around the waist-high.

The best defense is with an RFID wallet. These devices use a mesh cage built into a fashionable package to block the scanner signals.

Like the RFID chip, these are non-powered and won’t damage the cards inside.

As always, RFID protection only helps if you aren’t putting your information in other danger. Remember to keep an eye on your wallet and cards, don’t leave them lying around.

Restaurants are a particular risk, with some identify thieves setting up shop near staff POS systems. Pay at the table whenever possible for additional safety.

Keep up to Date

It’s a fast-moving world out there and learning what is RFID protection is only one step. Take action to learn which of your cards has RFID and get them protected.

Come back here for more information that affects your world.