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Ekster® Journal | How To Protect Your Cards and Why It's Important
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How to Protect The Cards in Your Wallet and Why It’s Important

The cards you choose to carry around in your wallet are there for a reason. Even if you are the only one who knows or understands the reason, there is one. Most people carry their ID, membership cards, loyalty cards, and, most importantly, their credit and debit cards.

 

A man sitting in a car looking at his iPhone's attached wallet

Modern banking cards and other plastic cards have begun using RFID chip technology to make for faster and easier use. This type of card is the modern equivalent to the older magnetic strip cards, which were rife with issues, but the best answer gave the state of technology at the time they were introduced. They had problems with accidentally being erased by coming too close to powerful magnets because they were programmed with the use of magnets. So, when a strong enough magnetic field came too close, the cards were subject to being wiped blank, requiring either reprogramming or totally replacing the card.

Unfortunately, the RFID chip cards have one glaring vulnerability that plagues them: the ability for scammers to make use of RFID scanner devices to remotely access the information stored within the card and steal it for their own criminal goals. Fortunately, though, there is a way that you can fight back against your odds of becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft. And it is simply referred to as RFID blocking.

What Are RFID Cards, and What Makes Them Vulnerable?

RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, is the latest innovative step in the ongoing evolution of bank and account card information storage systems. This technology consists of a built-in solid-state style chip, along with antennas embedded directly into the card itself. The cards do not contain any battery or power source, of course, but rather the chips are activated by electromagnetic field energy that is sent out by the chip reading device and received into the chip via the antenna. Upon activation, the chip uses its antenna to remotely relay the pertinent account information required for transactional use back to the RFID reader.

The way in which RFID chip cards function makes them faster and easier to use, but it is also the same way in which scammers can manage to access the same chipped cards. All they would need is an RFID scanning device that can be purchased online and shipped anywhere around the globe. These devices act in exactly the same manner as the ones at an average checkout counter; only they will normally have their ranges extended from the typical few inches out to several feet, allowing the scanner to access the cards from a much farther distance. The fact that this is all done remotely through the use of electromagnetic and radio waves means that it is a completely invisible crime. One that you likely won't even be able to realize has occurred until the damage starts to show in your accounts and statements.

So, If It’s Invisible, How Can I Stop It?

Invisible problems call for invisible solutions, as they say. Or in this case, it requires an invisible property that can be utilized to block the invisible signals that you can't see. This type of device is known as a Faraday cage.

A Faraday cage is, in the simplest of terms, a metal cage. What makes it special is the way in which they are made, as it gives them the ability to absorb and disperse energy across their surface, thereby preventing it from getting through. RFID blocking in a wallet is this type of structure, on a pocket-sized scale

The RFID blocking wallet will either be constructed with a metal interior frame wrapped in some sort of leather or fabric or be made entirely out of metal. A metal that is made in such a way that it takes on the energy blocking properties of a Faraday cage, just in a smaller package. 

A card wallet on a table

When electromagnetic fields come in contact with this surface, they are absorbed and redirected across the surface of the metal frame, shielding the cards contained inside from being activated by the energy field by dissipating the energy until it is no longer strong enough to be a danger. This completely and totally eliminates the possibility of the cards being activated remotely and keeps your extremely sensitive personal information safe from those prying eyes who could be out to do you harm.

Is it Really That Important to Protect Cards in Your Wallet?

Can there really be that much risk to an unprotected card? Well, in short, yes. If by risk, you mean that your sensitive personal information and even your money can be stolen, then there is definitely a risk. Keeping your finances secure is one of the most important things you can do, and allowing such easy access for bad guys is probably not the best thing to further the endeavors of security. 

What would it mean to you if you suddenly lost access to your bank account? If your credit score that we all work so hard to maintain was demolished nearly overnight by criminals? What if someone tried to steal not just your money, but your entire identity? If these scenarios don’t scare you to some extent, it’s a safe bet that you have somehow never been in a situation like these and don't realize what a stressful and time-consuming process it can be to retrieve your own information after someone managed to steal it out from underneath you. It is definitely not the type of situation you want to have to deal with. Just ask anyone who has ever been there before.

Card Protection and Security Is Always a Good Idea.

Unless you are one of a very small minority of people on this Earth who don't have to worry about it, your money is likely one of those things you spend quite a lot of your time thinking about. In today’s world, you can’t get by without some sort of credit or debit card, so why wouldn’t you want to give the maximum amount of protection that you possibly can?

With RFID skimmers becoming more common every day, the risk is only increasing into the foreseeable future. And of all the crimes you wouldn't want to fall victim to, fraud and identity theft can be some of the most devastating and time gobbling activities on that list.

The greatest danger in the theft of information through remote means from RFID chipped cards is the fact that it happens without you having any way to know. The moment your information is hijacked, the countdown begins until you could potentially find yourself in the middle of a waking nightmare. Being forced to prove that you are you in more ways than you imagine you could just to regain control over your own personal information from a common criminal.

The world can be a pretty scary place. And while there is no threat of physical harm with this sort of crime, there is still a danger involved. A danger that could see your bank accounts cleaned out or your credit cards maxed overnight, all by someone who turned you into their victim without you ever having been the wiser. Kinda scary, don’t you think? We improve the way you carry, so you can focus on what really matters.

A man holding a phone and a card holder

Sources:

Interesting Engineering

Forbes

Trip Wire

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