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What Is RFID Skimming?

rfid wallets

RFID-blocking wallets are designed to help insulate you from a very particular brand of electronic pickpocketing, called RFID skimming. The concern is that some credit cards, passports, and driver’s licenses now come with embedded radio frequency identification chips. When activated by an RFID reader, these chips transmit certain types of information wirelessly, so that you can verify your identity or even make a purchase without swiping your card.

The purpose of RFID skimming may be simple theft of funds or more complex identity theft Most typically, thieves use an NFC (near-field communication) enabled device that records unencrypted data from the card's RFID chip, which is broadcast into the air. In the case of a credit card, for example, the data might include the card number, expiry date and card holder name -- all that's required for transactions and, for many applications, to establish identity.

Potentially, RFID skimming is an even greater risk with debit cards, because banks often lack any policy to protect customers from fraudulent charges. The payment card industry has stated that safeguards are in place to make RFID-based cards secure. However, many researchers have demonstrated that the cards can be exploited.  Is your wallet protected?


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