Tap to pay! You must have heard that before. If you have a little sideways wave logo (see red circle on the image) on your credit card, you can simply tap your card on the merchant terminal to pay.
This payment method allows you to make contactless transactions using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. The technology consists of:
- 📡 A microchip inside the card. It contains information such as the card number. This is different from the EMV chip visible on the outside of the card.
- 📡 An antenna inside the card which sends information to the sales terminal. This is made up of several wires.
- 📡 An antenna in the terminal device to transfer and read information located on the chip.
These contactless credit cards make our lives easier, but how safe are they to use?
Technically, electronic pickpockets with skimming devices can pick up your card’sRFID signal and steal your money. In Europe, contactless purchases are limited to a certain amount to limit theft risks. Retailers have also created a market for RFID-blocking wallets. How do these wallets work, and do you need one?
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What Does “RFID-Blocking Wallet” Mean?
An RFID-blocking wallet uses a layer of carbon fiber or aluminum to block the electromagnetic signal emitted from your card. The wallet acts like a Faraday cage. It creates a barrier and cancels out electromagnetic signals. Whether you’ve owned a contactless payment card or not, the market for it has grown rapidly.
Do I Need to Worry About RFID Protection?
While it’s always a good idea to safeguard your wallet, the danger of contactless credit card thefts is overblown. Here’s why:
- Criminals with a reader need to be very close to scan your card.
- The theft is a time consuming hit-or-miss for criminals. Their victim might not even own a contactless card.
- The RFID chip only transmits the card number.Additional information needed for online transactions, such as the expiration date or security code, can’t be scanned.
- RFID cards now use encrypted one-time codes for each purchase.
All this means it’s not really worth it for scammers to skim RFID cards. Still, you should keep a close eye on your online finances and RFID scams are the least of your worries.
How To Shop Online Safely
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Love online shopping, but worried about your security? According to the FBI, online shoppers lost nearly $2 billion from skimming and related online theft in 2020 alone.
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Protect Yourself When Traveling
Just like your wallet, your data is at risk when you travel. You never know who could be lurking on the free airport wifi, waiting to hit you with a MitM attack. Cybercriminals trick the network system to intercept your connection and steal your data. That’s why you need to protect yourself with a VPN.
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What is RFID-blocking?
RFID-blocking material blocks your card’s electromagnetic signal. For example, an RFID-blocking wallet uses a carbon fiber or aluminum layer to disrupt the signal and create a “Faraday cage.” RFID-blocking only works on cards with RFID technology. Next time you pay by card online, consider using a VPN to avoid falling victim to cybercriminals.
Is RFID blocking really necessary?
No. In most cases, it’s not necessary because a thief would have to get very close to your card with no obstructions to steal from it. Still, it’s important to secure your financial information, especially online. CyberGhost VPN is a great way to stay out of harm’s way when you surf online.
Does aluminum foil block RFID?
Possibly. While aluminum foil may block the RFID signal, the signal itself requires close direct proximity to the sensor to work. More often than not, aluminum foil isn’t necessary.
It’s easier for cybercriminals to find sensitive information like your credit card details online. You should secure your connection with a VPN. Try CyberGhost VPN, backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.
How can I block an RFID chip?
Since the latest cards only work within close proximity (a few inches or centimeters), distance is usually enough to block the signal. Cloth barriers like your purse or wallet can further reduce it. If you’re worried, RFID-blocking wallets will definitely block the signal.
Still, cybercriminals can target you easily by leveraging your digital identity. Thankfully, VPNs like CyberGhost protect your identity online.
Is RFID a real threat?
While scammers are a real threat, they don’t rely much on RFID. Other ways are easier and more convenient. Cybercriminals now target shoppers more than ever because online purchases offer an opportunity to get information at the point of sale.
Do RFID wallets ruin credit cards?
No, RFID wallets don’t ruin credit cards. Still, it’s essential to keep your credit cards separated in any wallet. You should avoid placing them near any magnets, which can erase the data on the magnetic strip.
Virtually, VPNs are the best thing for your wallet and peace of mind. CyberGhost VPN’s support team stands by 24/7 in case you ever need us!