RFID Skimming – Protection Measures

Posted 12:42 13 February 2015

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Last week we found out about RFID technology and that it can be, and unfortunately is, used by the criminal element of society to ‘sniff out’ the details stored on the magnetic strip/chip of your credit/debit cards. Don’t panic! There are things that you can do to protect yourself and that is the subject of this weeks post.

One of the earliest tips to defeat RFID skimming was to keep your purse or wallet close to your body, preferably in a front pocket. The reason for this was the early readers needed to be very close to the magnetic strip to retrieve the information stored on it. As people are much more aware of being bumped on their front rather than being brush past from behind. It was also advised to avoid carrying your cards in a purse or wallet that was in a briefcase or handbag for the same reason.
As the technology for the RFID readers became more advanced, they could read cards at a much greater distance from the magnetic strip/chip. In order to protect your card now you need to cause an interference with the wireless signal emanating from the card. Here are a couple of ways to do this:

  1. Put a sheet of tin foil in your wallet or purse, making sure that the foil sheet lines the whole of the purse or wallet. Alternatively you can buy cards that are coated in a mixture of metals that disrupts the signal. You would need to use two of the cards to cover the front and back of your bank card.
  2. You can buy wallets that are designed to fit in your front pocket with an RFID blocking built in. There is a growing range of them available, and they can be large enough to protect your passport as well as your bank cards.

A more extreme and not necessarily recommended way to stop your card transmitting the RFID signal is to smash the chip, if you do this you wouldn’t be able to use the contactless payment feature of modern cards.
If you got caught out with this type of scam a professional private investigator can help you follow the paper trail and in some cases can even catch the culprit.
If you have any questions about tracing the culprit of an RFID scam don’t hesitate to contact Alpha 1 Legal Services through our website.