Our firearms protect us, but sometimes we need protection of a different sort. You have probably heard a lot about new-age pickpockets who take advantage of RFID technology used for contactless payments today. Let us break it down for you what that all means and what you can do to protect yourself from this new kind of theft.
RFID stands for Radio-Frequency Identification – small electronic devices that consist of a microchip and an antenna. This technology has been around for a long time and now it has made its way into a variety of items including credit cards, driver’s licenses and passports. RFID chips send out electromagnetic signals wirelessly to compatible readers to do things such as confirming the person’s identity or paying for a purchase. In the case of your passport, they can even broadcast your photo. A growing number of states (New York, Michigan, Washington, Vermont) are now also issuing special driver’s licenses “enhanced” with long-range RFID chips.
But there’s no “off button” on any RFID enhanced device. Which leaves the technology open to theft by “skimming.” In a world where contactless payments are the norm, our card details are vulnerable to being intercepted.
RFID skimming is a form of digital theft which enables information from RFID-equipped credit cards to be read and duplicated. According to Loss Prevention Media, “Typically, it involves the illegitimate reading of RFID-enabled credit cards (or other devices) at a distance in order to download the card’s information. From there, the information can be written to a new blank card, which operates in the same manner as the original, legitimate card.”
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to panic every time you go out with your wallet. It’s important to understand that not every credit card has RFID technology imbedded in it. But for those that do, purses and wallets with built-in RFID protection are the answer.
At GTM, we use a third generation RFID lining used in all our bags, either lining an interior pocket or outside front panel which blocks RFID readers from stealing information held on cards within the purse. Essentially, it provides a barrier between your cards and any potential scanners -- like a “shark cage” around the chip that radio waves cannot penetrate. 10 years ago RFID started as simple layers of tinfoil encased in plastic. It was thick and noisy. Today it is finely woven with the lining. Look for the small black and red sewn in label showing the RFID symbol.
Check out our extensive collection of bags with RFID protection, such as our Distressed Leather Slim crossbody bag or our gorgeous Gypsy Big Tote made from both American cowhide and buffalo in a beautiful blue shade. These and several other of our bags are especially made to protect the wearer from RFID skimming thieves – and of course are designed for concealed-carry, too. Strong. Beautiful. Fashionable.
Going forward, some financial industry experts believe that we’ll eventually move away from RFID to more and more wireless payments via our devices/phones (i.e. Apple Pay). Until then, it’s critical to keep your credit and personal information safe.