Skip to content

How to Prevent Credit Theft with RFID Blocking Wallets and Purses

Protect your credit by using an RFID blocking wallet or purse.
8-4 Wallet
Credit: Pixabay

Fraud, including identity and credit theft, are valid concerns for many Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that up to one in five Canadians will become victims of identity theft. While these types of crimes can happen in a variety of ways, one technique steals the information straight out of your wallet without you ever knowing it happened.

Theft Using Radio Frequencies

Did you know that your credit cards and even your passport have radio frequency identification technology (RFID) embedded in them? RFID technology is what allows you to quickly pay using tap or for the border agent to scan your passport.

Unfortunately, fraudsters have figured out ways to steal your credit card information using RFID and you probably won’t even notice them doing it. They use scanners or even just normal smartphones and surreptitiously place them near their victims’ purses or pockets. These devices are able to read and store credit card numbers and expiration dates. The thieves are then able to use this information to make fraudulent charges on your account.

Blocking RFID Theft Using Specialty Wallets and Purses

In order to counteract this type of theft, some manufacturers have designed wallets, purses, and even pants pockets that are made from materials that block RFID from being read. These products are made from carbon fiber or other metals that block electromagnetic waves.

Most of these products look just like any other wallet or purse from the outside. The RFID blocking material is usually sewn between the layers of fabric, so it is undetectable. Products made with RFID blocking materials are becoming more commonplace.

Since the credit card information is being sent and captured using radio waves, in order for RFID blocking products to work they need to completely surround your cards. A purse made with RFID blocking materials that is left open on top will not work effectively.

Do-it-Yourself RFID Blocking

RFID blocking products create a physical barrier that your credit cards’ radio frequencies cannot pass through. You can create your own homemade version of an RFID wallet very easily by wrapping your cards in aluminum foil, though it might not work quite as well. In order for it to be effective, the foil must not contain any holes and the cards must be re-wrapped after each use. Most people will want to opt for an RFID blocking wallet instead since foil-wrapped credit cards are not a very fashionable choice.

The best way to protect yourself from credit theft is by frequently checking on your credit card transactions. Many banks allow you to set up an alert each time your card is used, which makes it easy for you to detect unauthorized charges immediately. Report any fraudulent charges to the credit card company as soon as possible.  

Using an RFID blocking wallet or purse might help avoid those unauthorized charges and they definitely don’t hurt. If you find a fashionable wallet that includes this technology, it is definitely a bonus.

CPC-logoThis story was made possible by our Community Partners Program. The editorial content and views expressed in the articles are not those of CheckFirst.ca and the Alberta Securities Commission. Learn more.