Shopping around for a new wallet? Then you must have encountered wallets that boast of having RFID blocking technology embedded in them.
RFID technology is a fairly new concept in the market and this article will help you understand what it is and how can you make an RFID wallet yourself.
First, let’s get you introduced to RFID and credit cards that use them.
What is RFID?
Radio frequency identification or RFID is a new technology that tracks and identifies the objects that have tags using electromagnetic fields.
A RFID system basically has two components namely tag and a reader. A tag can be either passive or battery powered. Information is encoded on the tag, which is read using a reader which is a two radio transmitter-receiver. The passive tag uses the radio wave energy of the reader to relay the information to the reader, whereas battery powered tags use battery source for the same. After the information from the tag is decoded/ read by the reader, the same is fed to an RFID computer system.
This technology finds its application in many areas including military, commercial aeroplanes, keyless entry for car, E-tags, passports, laptops, i-pods, mobile phones and credit cards
However, it is now widely used in credit cards to enable them to make contactless payment; all you have to do is touch the card to a scanner, no need to insert or swipe the card into a terminal.
You can easily identify whether your new credit card is RFID enabled or not.
A RFID enabled card will have the following features:
- WiFi kind of symbol, sideways
- A small yet prominent rectangular chip in front of the card .
You may get a card with the rectangular chip on it, but that does not necessarily mean it is RFID enabled. Look for the symbol too.
The chip here adds an extra layer of security to the card and is known as EMV (Europay Mastercard Visa) chip.
How does the RFID chip work?
The RFID chips are made to be small, as they do not need any power source. It needs an RFID tag to work. The RFID tag comprises of antenna and chip. This tag needs to come in contact with an RFID reader, for it to work.
In case of an RFID enabled credit card, one can access the details of the card like the name, card number etc., if it comes in contact with an RFID reader. However, the tag must be in a specified distance from the RFID reader. This distance depends on factors like power, frequency, antenna size etc.
Since this makes the card vulnerable to misuse, credit card companies take various measures to ensure it is safe from the hackers and criminals. However, you can always ask your bank for a card without RFID if you are sceptical about the safety. Also, covering the RFID enabled card in a foil is a sure shot way of blocking the wireless signal or you could just take out the chip by yourself.
However, when it comes to everyday use, these methods may not seem practical.
Nowadays, there is another way of making sure your RFID credit card is safe. Wallets capable of blocking these RFID signals are now available in the market.
Even though RFID credit cards give you the advantage of saving time during the checkout, making payments easy and hustle free, it does have a downside.
RFID skimmers are used by hackers and criminals to access your credit card. All they do is use an illegitimate RFID reader in a distance that scans and downloads all the information from the card. This form of digital theft is known as RFID skimming. Using the information these hackers/thieves duplicate your card and leave you with a zero balance in your account.
Since RFID is nothing but electromagnetic waves, blocking it is very easy. Going for an RFID blocking wallet is the best option you have.
What is a RFID blocking Wallet?
These wallets seem like normal ones but have built-in RFID protection. A Faraday cage which is nothing but an enclosure that blocks electromagnetic signal is formed around the wallet. For this, the usual leather wallets use a piece of metal on both sides of the card. Some cards are totally made of metal that in itself act as a Faraday cage.
You can buy a new wallet with RFID blocking feature or you could just make one for yourself.
Here’s a guide to make your own RFID wallet!
DIY: Make your own RFID wallet
As already discussed, the best way to keep RFID signals at bay is the use of a metal. A simple sheet of aluminium foil with thickness around 0.024mm is enough to do the job. So, all you need to make an RFID wallet is:
- Duct tape
- Aluminium foil
- A pair of scissors
Now you are good to go.
- Take a sheet of Aluminium foil having a minimum thickness of 0.024mm.
- Place it on a table or on any flat surface.
- Take out duct tape, and cut out strips of equal length. Make sure the length is little more than length of the wallet you want to make.
- Stick the first duct tape strip over the Aluminium foil. The next strip should overlap the first one, but not fully. It should be placed somewhere closer to the bottom of the first strip.
- Similarly, follow for the remaining strips, until the size of the duct tape sheet is double the size of the wallet.
- Trim the edges and fold the sheet into half (so that bottom touches the top).
- Tape the side ends of the wallet, such that you get a pocket of the sheet.
- Again fold the wallet in half, so that the right side touches the left side.
There, you have your own custom made RFID blocking wallet.
Although these wallets do provide the security from the cards being scanned, you can always use additional precautionary measures too. Being a little bit careful about your online transactions by making sure the payments are through a secured gateway or putting your wallet in your front pocket instead of the back pocket, are little measures that can be taken.
Stay safe! Stay happy!