Hacker Proof RFID Blockers For Wallets: DIY Homemade RFID Protection Shield

By Mike Leighton | Travel Tips and Hacks
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Padlock laying on top of three bank cards, symbolizing security and RFID protection - RFID blockers for wallets featured image

Can cyber thieves steal your payment card details using hand held remote scanners?

Cyber security experts argue that the chances of anyone becoming a victim of RFID skimming theft is pretty slim and almost negligible. But no matter how “slim” the risk of cyber theft still exists, so say the experts from the “RFID blocking industry”.

Should we be worried?

Security experts tell us we shouldn't be!… but if you are worried about credit card fraud and identity theft we'll show you how to convert any wallet into a shielded wallet with a homemade RFID blocker that's just as effective and will offer you the same level of RFID protection as any of those you can buy.

Plus…

… what you can do right now to protect your credit card CVV security code from theft.

So what is RFID and what is it used for?

RFID is short for Radio Frequency Identification, in simple terms it's a method used to transmit electronic data via radio waves, a form of wireless communication.

RFID readers are used to automatically identify and track RFID tags (microchips containing relevant stored data) which are embedded or attached to certain items such as labels, passes, ID's, badges, metro cards, credit cards, debit cards etc.

When the reader is in close proximity to an RFID tag it will read the data that is stored on the tag.

Why you could be at risk of Fraud?

n the form of electronic data will passively respond to short-range radio wave pulses from the reader allowing the reader to read your credit or debit card's stored information.

There's no need to slot in your card and punch in your secret 4 digit pin number to make a payment (aka ‘chip and PIN' payments), instead you briefly hold or swipe your card over the card reader – it's quick, it's simple and efficient.

… and It's also less secure… or is it?

Credit card companies and banks have been using RFID chips in their cards for several years now, and continue to use them despite earlier warnings of a security flaw with the embedded chip which could place millions of customers at risk of fraud.

The problem with contactless payment cards when they were first introduced, was that anyone equipped with a small and compact RFID reader hidden in their jacket pocket or a shoulder bag, could steal your card details in literally seconds just by walking past you on the street.

… and if that's not worrying enough, rapid advances in technology is making it easier for novice card skimming operators to get in on the act.

Advancements in technology encourage RFID skimming

With the latest advancements in technology you can now convert most modern high-end smartphones into RFID readers and skimmers.

All that a cyber thief needs is an NFC (Near Field Communication) compatible phone and to download a specific piece of software – a radio-frequency identification app.

He can then “digitally” pickpocket you by scanning your card details hidden inside your wallet including your name, your card number and the expiry date, whilst innocently standing close to you in a crowded environment.

So why are banks so complacent about this?

Banks refusing to deal with this growing security threat?

Well for quite some time they did, and depending on who you banked with their answer was that anyone using this technology with the intention of stealing your credit or debit card details, cannot steal the ‘all important' 3 digit CVV number on the back of the card.

What they were saying is… if online retailers choose not to ask for this 3 digit security code then it's the online retailers problem and not the banks problem.

But they have stepped up their game a little!

The first generation of contactless cards had all the security flaws that were associated with potential radio frequency identification theft, but the major banks have now stepped up their game a little and have addressed some of these security issues after they were exposed on prime-time news channels in the US and the UK.

You can see the panic this was creating and you'll laugh at the simple DIY solution at converting any normal wallet into a radio frequency shielded wallet.

Channel-4 news item – radio frequency ID theft

Can you really trust the cyber security experts?

Although the newer generation of contactless cards do a better job of protecting consumers, can we really trust the experts when they tell us there's little to worry about, that this type of radio frequency ID theft and payment card fraud is practically non-existent.

If technology was to remain at a standstill then these security experts could be right in what they say, but what might appear to be safe and secure today might not be tomorrow! Cyber criminals are very smart and resourceful, and should never be underestimated or compared to petty criminals and pickpocket gangs.

Lets face it, since these cyber security experts have absolutely no control over the development of advanced technologies and the speed at which they are introduced to the public, can they guarantee that criminals won't find a way to hack these new contactless cards in say three to six months from now?

It's ‘better to be safe than sorry' comes to mind.

RFID blockers for wallets… keeping your cards safe

Keeping all your payment cards secure from cyber thieves is a lot easier than you think, you can opt for any one of these paid solutions listed below or even make your own homemade RFID blocker (see video below).

Hacker proof DIY homemade RFID blocker (for ALL wallets)

You won't believe how easy it is to make your own radio frequency shielded wallet with re-useable RFID protection. I say re-useable because many of the solutions you'll find on Youtube are impractical.

If you watched the earlier video you'll have seen the male presenter on the channel-4 news item convert a standard wallet into a shielded wallet, he did this by inserting a rectangular piece of kitchen foil (cut to size) into the wallet… nothing more is required.

The problem with this DIY solution is that after only a few uses the kitchen foil will crumple, it will get misshapen, it will also tear easily and you'll be forever replacing it…

… but there is a ‘clever' and simple fix for this.

This video shows how to make an aluminum foil RFID wallet blocker but with one important difference, the aluminum foil insert is practically indestructible and therefore re-useable.

The idea is simple and effective, and the end result is a homemade RFID blocking wallet that will block out radio frequencies equally as well as any of those you can buy.

Homemade DIY radio frequency shield for wallets

Step 1 – make a rectangular template from paper or thin card so that it fits snugly into the long outermost pocket inside of your wallet

Step 2 – using the template as a guide cut the aluminum foil to size with a pair of scissors (nb. the aluminum foil insert needs to have a thickness of at least 27 microns for it to be an effective radio frequency shield. If you're not sure of the thickness the easiest solution is to fold the foil in two and make it double thickness).

Step 3 – using 2″ wide packaging tape cover both the front and the back of the aluminum foil, this is what makes the foil practically indestructible and re-usable (ideally use the brown colored 2″ wide polypropylene tape, it has excellent adhesion, it's long lasting and is also very strong)

Step 4 – finally place your homemade RFID protection shield insert into the outermost pocket inside of your wallet… that's it.

SCRATCHING-OFF your credit card CVV security code?

We are told to keep the PIN number safe and hidden from prying eyes, but then they put the three-digit CVV security code (card verification value – used only for online transactions such as paying bills and buying products etc.) on the back of all credit cards for everyone to see… dumb or what!

Why do banks continue to do this?

CVV security codes should NOT be printed on payment cards they should be issued separately as they do with PIN numbers, allowing the card holder the option of storing it somewhere safe until it's needed, such as a password manager.

Anyone who steals your credit card has access to a world of online shopping. Any dishonest cashier or service repair-man who handles your card, even for a few seconds, won't have difficulty in memorizing the three-digit security number on the back when they check your signature.

So how can you protect yourself from this type of fraud?

Useful tip: some people suggest that you can protect your card by merely scratching-off the CVV security code by using a nail file and then painting over it with a black permanent marker pen. But before you follow this advice check with your bank first!

The last thing you want to do is to invalidate your card, and besides as long as you always use a credit card for transactions you're protected and you won't be liable for any fraudulent charges.

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