With many passports, driving licenses and credit cards now containing special RFID chips, our details can be read by special scanners in a matter of seconds, with minimal effort. While this is great for speeding up tasks such as passing through airport security and paying for some essentials at the airport, it can also leave you at risk of wireless identity theft!
How does RFID Work?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) works by using special radio frequency enabled chips, which are embedded in modern-day passports and more recent credit cards. These chips contain the personal data of the owner, which can be read be special RFID scanners at checkouts and airports.
The benefit of contactless credit cards is that they speed up the process of paying for items you’ve purchased and you don’t even need to remove the card from your wallet! However, many people argue that this is surely a security issue, as an illegal RFID scanning device could easily be placed nearby to intercept transmissions and read your card or passport’s information.
RFID Identity Theft
Although RFID cards and passports were designed to make our lives easier, there are sadly people that will try and exploit any flaws in the system and use them to their advantage. The big flaw with RFID chips is that they can be read from a distance, therefore, there is nothing to stop a thief from scanning and stealing your personal information by simply standing in the same room as you. Once identity thieves have obtained your information, they can use it program their own credit cards, enabling them to complete transactions using your data, leaving you footing the bill!
If your passport features the biometric (E-Passport) symbol, as many modern-day passports do, it will be enabled for RFID scanning. The same applies here as it does with credit cards, if someone with an illegal scanner is stood nearby, they will be able to obtain encrypted information from your passport, which can enable them to steal your identity and possibly open bank accounts and get credit cards registered in your name! Again, leaving you footing the bill for someone else’s spending spree.
How to Prevent RFID Theft
Since the introduction of biometric passports (E-passports), the security of traveller’s personal details has become a concern. Due to this concern, a number of travel gear manufacturers brought a range of RFID blocking travel accessories to the market. These products were designed to help prevent the illegal scanning of passports, driving licenses, credit cards and other RFID enabled items.
If you want somewhere safe to store your passport, an RFID passport pouch or holder would be a good option, these feature a special RFID blocking layer within the fabric, which prevents illegal scanning of your data.
Many travellers like to travel with a money belt and RFID blocking money belts are becoming a more popular option, due to the concerns surrounding wireless identity theft. These are often designed with enough space for a passport, cash and cards, as well as tickets and other small important items. Another option for safely storing your passports, cards and other items is an RFID travel organiser, not only will this help keep your stuff organised and easy to find when you need it, but it will also help protect it from illegal scans.
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.