Wednesday, May 15, 2019

RFID Protection and Other Scams

Mystique - Because she is just so cute!

I have been asked, more than once, if I put RFID shielding into my wallets and bags. The answer is no. I have never seen the need. My Geek Girl qualifications are now invoked. I have spent most of my working life in technology. I taught computers to woman before everyone owned a computer. So I understand how this stuff works.

I have seen the demonstrations on TV and on the internet, showing how easy it is to skim a credit card with an RFID chip in it. Most of us (at least in Canada) have cards we can tap to pay for our purchases. I tap to pay all the time. It is quick, easy, and I don't have to remember the PIN number for that card.

When a video made the rounds on the weekend, with the subject "Why You Need an RFID Protected Wallet", I looked it up again. Although it is certainly possible for criminals to get the information from your card, the information is encrypted. They would also have to know how to translate it into something they can use. As well, if you have more than one of those cards in your wallet, they will cancel each other out, confusing the reader, and serving as a shield. I checked my wallet. I have four cards with RFID on them. When I travel, I add my passport, which has one, too.

RFID shielding of your bag also blocks phone calls and messages to your cell phone. Of course, if you don't want to be bothered when you are out...

The biggest reason I don't use a shield in my bags is because NO ONE HAS EVER REPORTED HAVING THEIR DATA STOLEN THIS WAY! It has just never happened. It is too much work to collect the data, figure out how to break the encryption, and produce data that can be used. The only people profiting from this supposed threat are the people selling wallets and other products with RFID shields in them. Next time you see one of these demonstrations, ask yourself what they are selling.

If you want more information, check out this article.

It is far easier for scammers to ask you for your information directly. Everyday, I get phone calls and emails, trying to get me to volunteer my credit card information, either by offering me a fabulous interest rate, or trying to scare me, by telling me my account will be closed. This is much less work for a scammer, you do all the work for them.

These days, I provide computer support for a small number of (mostly) seniors, who trust me to solve their tech problems and like the way I explain things to them. I keep being asked to clean up computers when someone has clicked on the wrong thing, or believed someone who has phoned them to tell them they have a virus, and now they really do have something. It is not my favourite job to fix, because I have to assume that something bad has happened and prove it hasn't first. It takes hours of slow, careful work, before I can declare the computer clean.

My best advice is to never click on a link in an email, if you are unsure of the sender. Never give your credit card number to someone who calls you. NEVER EVER give access to your computer to someone outside your house. Once someone has remote access to your computer, they have access to all your information.

Instead of spending money on an RFID shielded wallet, find yourself a computer tech you can trust. Preferably one who didn't call you to offer their services. Her services are worth the price.


  1. I agree totally with everything your wrote. Scammers are there for one thing and that is to make money. I would find life very mundane and so many things really difficult without my laptop, and it is for myself only. A treasure , and so many years ago I could not have imagined how it would change my days.

  2. Very useful information. Why let scammers do all the work when you can do it for them?

  3. Thank you for this - you have voiced what I always felt to be true and in a perfectly understandable way. xx

  4. Well said, Kate! Thank you for the info.

  5. Your Facebook friend request by someone you've already friended is most likely a scammer.