Credit card companies added RFID chips to popular credit cards to start a wave of consumers who pay not by swiping, but by tapping, their credit cards on a credit card terminal. The technology has spurned a number of security concerns, primarily by people worried that a criminal could steal credit card information from a distance.
The fear has sparked a new industry in security. Companies now sell sleeves for RFID-enabled credit cards which they allege to significantly reduce the risk of credit card theft. The sleeves block the radio frequencies used to read RFID credit cards, meaning that your credit card will never be read without having it out of its sleeve only when it is ready to use. The sleeves, which sell from anywhere from $3 to $20 or more, can be found online or in select electronics stores.
Do you need one? It would not hurt. According to experts, credit card thieves don’t yet have an incentive to use RFID readers to steal card numbers as too few cards have an RFID chip. However, as more cards are outfitted with the technology, it would be prudent to defend against new-age credit card theives.
Those who want a cheaper but less sturdy option can use simple kitchen aluminum foil, which will block radio frequencies just as well as any other protective sleeve. Most sleeves on the market use a thin layer of aluminum metal, which is known for its ability to block radio frequencies. As always, the best solution is what works for you, but protecting your credit card numbers in this day and age of high-tech theft might be one of the best investments you can make.