With the aid of technology, pickpocketing has reached a new level. Newer swipeless credit cards feature a special radio frequency identification chip, or RFID, which removes the need for swiping at terminals. As smart as these cards can be, make sure you outsmart thieves who want to scan your RFID cards while they sit in your wallet. A simple starting defense involves stacking your RFID credit cards together in your wallet. Doing so can confuse an RFID scanner because it will capture a mixture of data from all the cards instead of single card numbers.
Measure and cut two pieces of cardboard into 3.5-by-2.25-inch rectangles -- roughly the size of your credit cards. Wrap the heavy-duty aluminum foil completely around each cardboard rectangle. Place your RFID credit cards between the two aluminum foil-covered cardboard pieces. The aluminum foil should block any scanning attempts against your credit cards, the Connecticut Better Business Bureau says. Carry the protected RFID credit cards with the cardboard rectangles in your wallet.
Make a simple sleeve for your RFID credit cards out of heavy-duty aluminum foil and duct tape, the Scholastic website advises. Cut a 4-by-3-inch sheet of aluminum foil and cover both sides of it with overlapping strips of duct tape -- this will be the body of the sleeve. Cut a 4-by-2.5-inch sheet of aluminum foil and cover it with overlapping strips of duct tape -- this will be the pocket of the sleeve. Place the larger body piece on a flat work surface with the long sides at the top and bottom. Place the pocket piece on top of the body piece, lining it up the bottom edges of both pieces so just 1/2 inch of the sleeve is visible at the top edge. Duct tape the pocket to the sleeve along the sides and bottom edges. Place your credit cards into the sleeve and tuck the sleeve into your wallet to keep your cards safe.
Buy an RFID shield sleeve designed to protect your RFID credit cards from criminal scanning. Stick your credit cards into the sleeves of the shield and carry it when you go out with your RFID credit cards.
Ask for standard credit cards from your bank instead of the newer RFID credit cards. Some card issuers will honor this request, Consumer Reports says.
The South Milwaukee Police Department recommends being on the safe side and fully wrapping your RFID credit cards in heavy-duty aluminum foil when you carry them in your wallet.
For absolute protection from RFID credit card scanning, don’t carry your RFID credit cards in your wallet. Keep these credit cards at home and leave the house only with your standard credit cards.
- Connecticut Better Business Bureau: BBB Explains How to Protect Against “Electronic Pickpockets”
- Scholastic: How It Works -- Radio Frequency Identification
- South Milwaukee Police Department: Identity Theft Becomes Easier -- Do Your Credit Cards Have an RFID Chip?
- Consumer Reports: Newer Cards Can be Hijacked, Too
- State of Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation: Radio Frequency Identification Chips Compromise Privacy
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