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Are RFID Blocking Wallets Worth It?

Are RFID Blocking Wallets Worth It?

Update Time:2024/7/4

Are RFID Blocking Wallets Worth It?

RFID-blocking wallets are supposed to prevent your RFID card information from being stolen. But do they really work? And even if they do, are the dangers real enough to make the purchase worthwhile? Let's find out.


What is RFID Blocking?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology uses energy from an electromagnetic field to power a small chip, which emits information in response. For example, the RFID chip in a credit card contains the information needed to authorize a transaction, and the RFID chip in an access card has a code to open a door or restricted system.

Certain materials, especially conductive metal

s, prevent electromagnetic waves from passing through them. An RFID-blocking wallet has its card sleeves (or sometimes the entire wallet) made of a material that doesn't let radio waves pass through.

That way, the chip won't activate, and even if it does, its signal won't pass through the wallet. The bottom line is that you can't read an RFID card through your wallet.

Why should your card be blocked?

RFID tags are passive devices that will happily send their information to anyone willing to listen. This sounds like a recipe for poor security, but RFID tags that can be scanned at a distance are not usually loaded with sensitive information. They are used to track inventory or packages, for example. It doesn't matter who reads the information because it's not a secret.

Concerns about RFID cards are growing as more and more NFC reading devices make their way into the hands of the general population. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a technology very similar to RFID, with the main difference being range. NFC chips can only read at a range measured in inches. NFC is essentially a special type of RFID. It's how "swipe to pay" cards work with payment terminals equipped with NFC readers.

If your smartphone is capable of contactless payments, it can also be used to read NFC cards. So what stops someone from using their phone to copy your NFC card? This is exactly the scenario that an RFID blocking wallet is supposed to prevent. The idea is that someone can simply hold their NFC reader close to your wallet and copy your card. They can then have the device copy the RFID information to make a payment.


Are RFID Protected Wallets Worth It?

There’s no doubt that the concept behind RFID-blocking cards is solid. A 2012 demonstration of how an Android phone could steal credit card details wirelessly left no one doubting the threat. The problem is, these kinds of attacks don’t seem to be happening in the wild.

It makes sense that NFC skimming could be used against specific high-value targets carrying valuable information, but it’s not worth it to walk around a crowded mall and steal credit card information from random strangers. Not only is there a real physical risk of pulling off this specific heist in public, but it’s also much easier to steal credit card information using malware or phishing techniques.

As a cardholder, you’re also protected from credit card fraud by the card issuers, none of which, as far as we know, require the use of an RFID-blocking wallet to qualify. So at most you’ll avoid a minor inconvenience when stolen funds are replaced. If you’re a high-value target, such as an employee with access cards to valuable or sensitive assets, then using an RFID-blocking sleeve or wallet is wise.

So, an RFID-blocking wallet is worth it because this low-probability attack could be used against you. But we don’t think it should be a determining factor when choosing your next wallet unless you’re high risk. Then again, the best RFID blocking wallets are also great wallets. So why not?

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