Introduction: "Foil" RFID Credit Card Theft

Picture of "Foil" RFID Credit Card Theft

RFID chipped credit/debit cards are touted as a "new" and "secure" credit card method and banks are issuing all new cards with chips, phasing out stripe-only cards. RFID technology is not only nothing new, it's also far less secure than they would have you believe.

RFID chips are also used as tracking devices. Are banks using them for this purpose?

Do you want to take the risk of finding out?

Did you know that if you are motionless for a full 30 seconds, such as standing in a line at the store or in an elevator, a thief can scan your RFID-enabled card from up to three feet away and hack your card? Google around, it's true.

Here is how you can "foil" them and gain a slight edge on credit card theft.

Step 1: "Foil" Your Card

Picture of "Foil" Your Card

A Consumer Reports article reviewed ten commercial "wallet shields" and found the results inconsistent and poor, even among several batches from the same manufacturer (link below.) The bottom line:

"Our reporter offered her own homemade shield constructed of duct tape and lined with aluminum foil. It provided better protection than eight of the 10 commercial products, including a stainless-steel “RFID blocking” wallet selling online for about $60."

Consumer Reports Article

Materials Required

- Aluminum Foil

- Duct Tape

It's "Duct Tape," not "Duck Tape," but the brand name "Duck Tape" Duct Tape will do just fine. (snarky comment brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.)

As for the aluminum foil, a new piece of any grade will do. I used leftovers from my Tin Foil Hat. :-\

Simply wrap the card, but not too tightly, in the foil. Be sure to fold edges on the outside of the pocket so it doesn't hang up when you slip the card in and out. If you're concerned about damaging the magnetic strip on the card with the edges of the foil (as you can see I'm not,) you can make it a little long and fold the foil edges on the outside of the tape.

Wrap the foil with tape while the card is still in the foil, again, not too tightly.

With the card still in the foil sleeve, slide the foil sleeve down inside your wallet or, in my wife's case, the phone case where you keep the card. It will be a little tight, work it down in carefully. When you use the card, slide it out of the foil case and leave the case in your wallet. It should slide in and out easily.

That's it, it's not much but every little bit of protection helps.

Comments

vandeloecht (author)2016-07-02

I just went to my bank and requested new cards WITHOUT the RFID chips. They're annoying, inconvenient, and not universally accepted, let alone the fact that they may or may not be less secure than the magnetic strip.

ThomasK19 (author)2016-07-02
BeachsideHank (author)2016-07-02

I read that if you have more than one such card in close- very close as in a wallet close- proximity to another, readers can't parse the data fields of either, it being confused.

Still though, the wife made up one of these prophylactic card shields just to be sure- redundancy can be a good thing too. ☺

That is also mentioned in the consumer report article, and other places as well, the scanner is looking for a signal and the two of them give it no intelligible data.

The problem is that we live in a world described by Huxley in Brave New World, the truth is given to us freely but it's so buried in trivial white noise (see: Kardashians and kittah videos) that it becomes very difficult to discern truth from distraction. So yes . . . what if they are right? Let people laugh, opinions don't mean anything at all. :-)

bpresley1 (author)2016-07-01

I work for one off the top credit card processors in the US. The antennas and wattages used with contactless cards mean the usable maximum range for meaningful data transmission is at most about 6 inches. Even if you somehow were to get anything out of the card remotely life this, the tokenization system EMV cards use renders that data worthless unless the card is in near-near field communications with an emv terminal and the card issuing bank.