RFID: To Block, or Not To Block
Think you're safer with an RFID-blocking wallet? Think again.
These days, it seems like it's easier than ever to fall victim to identity theft. Hacking is ever-advancing, and it's hard to believe that a thief can electronically gather your information from several feet away — but it is technically possible. That's why there are foil-lined pouches and lined wallets that block RFID-skimming from individual credit and debit cards.
While wrapping your cards in metal may be effective in blocking fraud, the question is: Are these credit-card "foil hats" truly necessary?
In short: No. More and more specialists agree that RFID-blocking is essentially modern-day snake oil, preying on fear to sell you something under a false sense of security. After careful research, we agree with Washington's Top News to "spend your cash elsewhere."
Here are the facts.
1. Your card most likely isn't RFID.
That chip on your card? It is not RFID. In fact, it is an EMV chip designed to provide improved protection. If your card doesn't have the words PayPass or PayWave or an icon that looks like a wifi signal, you don't need to worry — and why pay more for an added feature you don't need?
Photo via this post on how to manually opt out. You can also whack it with a hammer, apparently.
2. You're already protected.
Let's say a thief does hack your card. RFID sends only a one-time code, keeping unencrypted card numbers from transmitting anywhere. This limits any thief to only one potential stolen transaction.
The good news is, most credit card companies do not hold customers accountable for fraudulent payments made due to fraud. So, in this case, a foil RFID-blocker would prevent one transaction that you're already protected from.
3. There are better ways to protect yourself against actual fraud.
The real threat to credit-card hacking is in the form of ATM skimmers: Thieves place readers into an ATM or point-of-sale device, efficiently gathering data in large quantities. Unfortunately, a foil sleeve or lined wallet cannot protect you from this most popular form of theft.
While ATM-skimmers are an increasing problem that makes nearly everyone vulnerable to theft, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid becoming a victim:
- Make withdrawals or transactions only at ATMs in a bank lobby — or even better, directly from a bank teller.
- Look closely at the card reader on an ATM, and find a different one if it appears loose or noticeably different than before.
- Along with the skimming device itself, thieves will also plant a tiny camera nearby to pick up your pin number. Always use one hand to cover the hand that's typing in your pin.
- Use your credit card for transactions, because it's more secure and protected against fraud far better than your debit card.
The best part? All of these fraud-prevention practices are free!
The final verdict on RFID blocking
If you’re bent on traveling incognito — perhaps you’re a spy, or an international person of mystery — an RFID-blocking wallet or sleeve might be a prudent precaution. Otherwise, odds are you’ll be just fine without one.
All of this being said, if you like a wallet and it happens to have RFID-blocking, that's perfectly fine – unless you need to have access to your NFC cards. And because we understand the value of peace of mind (the undisputed benefit of RFID-shielding), our we offer select wallets with RFID shielding.
To provide the best of both worlds, the exterior of Wally Bifold RFID is shielded against skimming; inside the billfold are two slots for at-a-glance card storage. Use these internal slots to hold your NFC cards (like subway, work key-cards, etc) to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with an RFID-blocking wallet, plus tap-and-go convenience without having to remove these commonly used cards from your wallet.
Because for many, peace of mind is priceless.