Technology can be a wonderful thing. You can snap photos on your phone and share them with family half a world away. You can wave your phone at a credit card machine and make a payment. Or if you’d rather, you can even just tap your credit card on that same machine and make your purchase with your RFID chip.
This kind of technology is done through Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID. This allows some credit cards and all U.S. passports to be read by RFID chip-reading technology, which reads your personal information stored on the embedded chip, thus confirming your identity and data.
However, things that can be read by friendly technology can also be picked up by hackers and identity thieves, especially in airports or large public places. While we don’t have large gatherings or huge crowds like we did a year ago, some people, especially travelers, still feel the need to secure their valuable information, which makes perfect sense. We like to think our data is unreadable as long as we protect it, but that’s not always the case.
The major source of identity theft is credit cards, including anything from theft, phishing scams, data breaches, and even rogue RFID scanners. Hackers will walk around with the scanners in their pocket, bag, purse, or backpack, scooping up the information from as many credit cards and passports as they can.
It’s important to note that while the scanners can pick up the credit card number and expiration date, they don’t pick up your 3-digit CVV code on the back, or your pin number. That doesn’t stop all theft, but it does slow it down quite a bit. Similarly, scanners can pick up information the passport, but it won’t pick up your photo. Also, most of your personal information is encrypted, which requires a key to unlock, and those keys are usually only held by the TSA and other airport security authorities.
It’s easy enough to block these RFID scanners though, only pulling them out when you need them. RFID wallets have either a carbon or metal lining that blocks the radio frequencies of the scanners.
But if you love your wallet or don’t want to buy a special wallet just for travel, then you may also want to consider the Travelpro Platinum® Elite backpack, the Crew Executive Choice backpack, or Crew Executive Choice pilot brief for our ID TheftBlock pockets
Do you use RFID credit cards? Do you ever worry about identity theft from scanners? What steps have you taken to protect yourself? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.