As our lives get more high tech, so do our wallets. Paypass and Paywave and other RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technologies are now standard on many bank and ID cards. These new cards are used by a scanner, which means they don’t have to be pulled out of your wallet to work. This also means that anyone with a scanner close to your wallet can take your details.
As people living in cities and suburbia, we can walk past hundreds of people per day which we pay no attention to. We wouldn’t give a second glance to many people that we walk past. We are busy going places or thinking about what we are about to do.
Pickpockets traditionally tried not to get noticed. They might bump into their victims, causing a distraction whilst they took what they wanted. But now with RFID technology, these people can take your banking details from a short distance. This means they don’t have to touch you in anyway to get your credit card number!
The worst part is that RFID equipment is not hard or expensive to buy. You don’t have to be a shopkeeper to own it; anyone can easily purchase it on eBay or make one out of parts in an electronic store.
With this being said, the popularity of this new technology has also made RFID blocking wallets popular over the past few years. The RFID blocking wallet is a wallet which has a shield which blocks the RFID signal. It can be a type of foil or aluminum casing which reflects the signal.
RFID blocking can be worked into standard bi fold/tri fold wallets. It is placed in between the leather layers and is not seen from the outside. However the RFID blocking layer makes this wallet stiffer and less pliable than a conventional wallet. This takes time to become accustomed to if one is not used to carrying a metal lined wallet. It will get more pliable over time, as the material wears in.
Otherwise other wallets are RFID blocking because they are made out of certain materials. Aluminum case wallets that totally seal are RFID. These wallets are hard and must be worn in the front pocket because you cannot sit on them. Wallets made from stainless steel, and stainless steel mesh are also RFID blocking and allow some more flexibility.
It is important to note that not all RFID blocking wallets will not completely stop RFID signals. Many tests have been done analyzing the ability of the wallets to encase the signal. The most reputable one we have seen had an RFID sleeve block the signal at greater than 1 and a half inches (see test here). This result is echoed in many reviews of different wallets.
This result means carrying an RFID blocking wallet makes electronic pick pocketing tougher, but not impossible. So it is important to be responsible and aware that these devices (RFID Readers) are out there. They are typically smaller than a lap top and would be carried around in a satchel or similar bag. The bag would hold the power source and the unit. It would need to be carried around hip pocket level to work.
This video shows an example of a man with an RFID Reader
Purchasing an RFID wallet or RFID sleeve, you make it a lot harder for any electronic pickpockets to steal your identity information. It is something well worth considering if you are concerned about having your details stolen by one of the many people we pass by every day.
If you are interested in an RFID blocking wallet, you may also like to see our best RFID blocking wallet guide.