Protect your RFID-Chipped Credit Cards

November 06, 2015

This may be of casual interest to our customers and fans. As we are completely an e-commerce company, we feel it is our responsibility to inform everyone to keep their wallets safe, especially with the holiday season approaching. 

So, a little background. You may have noticed that recently, your bank or credit issuer have sent you a new debit or credit card with a microchip on it. This chip is known as an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip, and it is embedded onto your credit card. The appearance may vary depending on design, but if you have in the past few months received a new card, it probably has a RFID chip on it. 

Part of the reason why you are issued new cards is because of the liability shift mandate that the credit card companies have passed. In their battle against credit card fraud, whereby often than not, the loss is bore by the credit card company, they realised that a more effective solution is required. With the recent data breaches on retailers like Target, Home Depot etc. the push for a more secure transaction became more urgent. So last month, the EMV (Europay, Mastercard & Visa) made October 1, 2015, the date where the liability shift is implemented. For the average consumer, what this means is credit issuers, i.e. banks, and merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for any and all transactions that are found to be fraudulent. Of course as a merchant, this is not good news and therefore the incentive to upgrade to EMV-compliant hardware. 

If you have been to a store and at the cash register you seen the new terminals that allow you to tap using your chipped card to pay, that is an EMV-compliant device. It is fast, easy and convenient compared to the traditional magnetic swipe. 

While the transactions are safer, these RFID-chipped do have a flaw. The chip itself is unable to distinguish the difference between a legal point-of-sale (POS) tap or an illegal skim from an electronic pickpocket standing near by you. Pickpocketing has gone hi-tech.

Basically, this is how easy it is. Using a smartphone, with the right app, an electronic pickpocket can be standing nearby you, and act like a POS terminal. So when you walk pass them or if they stand behind you in line at the airport, or local coffee shop, the RFID chip on your credit card is going to respond to the "knock" on the door.

So how do you protect yourself? There are several solutions in the market currently. They range from boxy aluminum cases, to sleeves which holds one card at a time, or the paper-thin Stealth card, which uses an antenna technology to block incoming and outgoing RFID waves, and is capable of protecting up to 12 RFID-chipped credit cards. 

Whichever solution you choose, just know that the world we live in has gotten more sophisticated in technology for both the better and worse.