Personal Security 101: What is RFID Blocking?

April 16, 2020 3 min read

Personal Security 101: What is RFID Blocking?

Innovation in credit card and personal identification technology has improved many of our daily and professional interactions, from transaction security and ease of payment to securely entering buildings. One frequently used method is Radio Frequency Identification or  RFID – what is it, and how can you make sure your information is properly protected?

 

What is RFID anyway?

RFID is the use of electromagnetic fields to read, capture, and track information stored on tags that are attached to an object. Tags can sometimes be read from up to several feet away and don’t need to be within direct line-of-sight. When it comes to credit cards, the particular type of RFID technology used is called Near-Field Communication. NFC is the same tech used in mobile wallets and contactless interactions that allow you to "tap" or bring your card, wallet, or phone close to a card reader and pay for goods and services. In North America the most commonly used frequency is 13.56mhz. Information held in cards and IDs is sent to these readers making for convenient transactions.

 

What cards have RFID technology?

Major credit card companies such as Chase, Visa, MasterCard, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Discover offer RFID technology on their cards. The simplest way to check whether or not your card has RFID is to look for the radio waves symbol on the front or back. Here is an example on the back of a Chase Sapphire Preferred card:


Credit Card RFID Technology Symbol on the back of a Chase Sapphire Preferred

What is RFID Blocking?

RFID blocking prevents information held in your cards from being sent to any reader without your consent. To understand why this is important, remember that while RFID technology is convenient, it’s possible for someone to acquire and misuse RFID information. All it takes is an RFID reader to be in close proximity to your cards and IDs. This is called RFID skimming and there are many examples of this online. Attempts at skimming can occur in places like a checkout line or while being passed on the street. RFID skimming highlights how sensitive information needs to be protected and blocked RFID signals make cards harder to read remotely.

 

How to Protect Against RFID Devices

Understanding how RFID works is an important first step towards protecting yourself and your information. The next step is to take preventative action by blocking readers from scanning your RFID cards. Materials like nickel, aluminum, copper, and carbon fiber create RFID blocking effects due to their natural conductive properties. Compared to other materials, carbon fiber is extremely thin and lightweight, making it an ideal choice for complete protection with minimal added bulk. 

 

RFID Blocking Wallets

The easiest way to block RFID signals is by using an RFID blocking wallet. Carrying a wallet that is RFID blocking gives you protection without having to change your routine, spend unnecessarily, or add weight with metal card sleeves.

By utilizing the conductive properties of carbon fiber, Common Fibers wallets such as our trifold (TRI), bifold (MAX), minimalist (SLM), slider (SLD), or passport (PAS), provide RFID protection against the most commonly used credit card frequencies. The woven carbon fiber creates a Faraday cage that prevents RFID scanners from reading the contents of your wallet without your knowledge.

 

Common Fibers Carbon Fiber RFID Blocking Bifold Wallet

 

Conclusion

RFID Technology has led to some amazing advancements in our daily lives. However, it has also exposed real risks in protecting your information. Understanding the how and why behind RFID technology allows you to better prepare yourself when you next use your card. There is no shortage of RFID blocking products on the market, but our carbon fiber wallets provide an optimal solution compared to others. If you have any questions about our wallets or RFID, please reach out and contact us. We're happy to answer any questions!

 

 


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