I read an article in the news today called "Police caution that credit-card chips make it easier for thieves".

Apparently, because the chips are transmitting a radio signal (an RFID), this signal can be picked up from a device on a thieves cellphone or laptop and used to steal your account information or personal details.

The story claims that you can enhance your protection by getting "card-shielding sleeves or wallets".

What are the the materials that make this possible and other options in regards to RFID shielding/protection for my cards?

I found some wallet makers that provide this protection, but how do I choose...

Can I just wrap my wallet in tinfoil (shiny side out or in)?

More articles:

  • 2
    You're not liable, so who cares? Apr 4 '12 at 2:06
  • A closely related question: money.stackexchange.com/q/12615/1091
    – sharptooth
    Apr 4 '12 at 6:49
  • 1
    I asked the same question phrased in more technical manner on Electronics SE electronics.stackexchange.com/q/29273/3552
    – sharptooth
    Apr 4 '12 at 6:56
  • @duffbeer703 I guess my biggest concern is privacy and personal information. It's not like an email address where it's possible to just change the password. I can't do that with my personal privacy.
    – SaultDon
    Apr 4 '12 at 15:51
  • @sharptooth That's exactly the answer I was looking for, thanks. Interesting that you only need to cover the vital parts of the chip on the card.
    – SaultDon
    Apr 4 '12 at 15:53

The chips are not transmitting anything, unless they're very close (millimeters' distance) to an RFID reader that induces them.

You can protect them by putting a barrier so that the induction won't work, there are several (very cheap/free, like this one for example) products for that, and many wallets have the shielding capabilities nowadays. Wrapping them in foil might very well help as well.

  • What about in the news story it states: "radio-frequency identification chip cards". What do they mean by radio-frequency?
    – SaultDon
    Apr 3 '12 at 22:35
  • 1
    That's the name of the technology - RFID. You can read about it in details on Wikipedia, the article is pretty well written there. Chips used in credit cards don't have power source and only transmit information when induced.
    – littleadv
    Apr 3 '12 at 22:58
  • I guess this makes it easier to make card skimmers Apr 4 '12 at 5:58
  • Also because in the article they state the thief can 'swipe' the card "without even touching your wallet"... This makes me also think that it is transmitting something.
    – SaultDon
    Apr 4 '12 at 15:55
  • 2
    onchip RFID devices cannot transmit something of their own as they do not contain the energy to do so. They only do that when "induced" by a tranciever that supplies the power. Apr 4 '12 at 16:23

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