Is Your Credit Card Vulnerable to E-pickpocketers?

Does your credit card have a little radio wave symbol on it?  If so, it likely has a RFID chip embedded in it. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID chips allow you to make contactless payments with your credit card. It also means hackers can access your credit card data wirelessly.

TechDad ordered a package of credit card/passport RFID blockers for prizes at last month’s Senior Tech Fair and people were surprised to learn how vulnerable their information is, even in their own pocket.

The same technology that makes automatic payment on toll roads and faster scanning of passports possible, also allows pickpockets to use a small scanner to steal your bank information without even laying a sneaky hand on your wallet.

The percentage of contactless cards is much higher in Europe than the U.S. but millions more RFID chipped cards will be released in the coming years. (*RFID chips are different from the EMV chips which are now in most credit cards and require contact to be read.)

Companies like Identity Stronghold and retailers like REI make a range of RFID blocking sleeves, wallets, and purses. If you're worried about e-pickpocketing but don't want to spend much money, you can make your own blocking wallet or wrap your cards or passport in a thick piece of aluminum foil. According to Consumer Reports, that works as well as most RFID protectors on the market.

While these products are nifty, TechDad encourages you to pay attention to the basics, like good password management and checking your credit reports.