I'm a big fan of technology. It's what enables me to create these posts and share my experiences and adventures in survival with you. It no longer matters if you are just next door or half a world away. The internet connects us through a global network of computers, and in doing so helped revolutionize the world.
But with new technology comes risks, and there are a handful of innovations you need to be careful of. RFID chips are one of them. Radio-Frequency Identification, otherwise known as RFID, is a microchip that's found in most of the new credit cards, debit cards, and even your passport these days. It's the gold or silver chip printed in one half of your card. If you open your wallet right now, you've probably got one in there.
But that's not the scary part.
The same technology that allows you to "tap and pay" with your credit card when you're buying groceries can be harnessed by thieves to steal your data, using a technique known as RFID skimming. A powerful enough device can even capture this data from many feet away, as once the data is requested the microchips emit a radio signal that just needs to be received. You know the small device you can install on your windshield to automatically pay the tolls you drive through? That uses the same RFID technology. And it works.
Now here's the big dilemma.
Security experts all over the world are saying RFID isn't a problem. That the dangers are all in our heads.
Because why would thieves risk themselves on camera in a crowded place, like a shopping mall, hoping to scan just a handful of people's data? In fact, many credit card providers have even updated their technology so each card no longer sends an unencrypted card number, but a one-use code to confirm a transaction. So, the risk is limited, they say. It's just too cumbersome.
One expert even claimed it was so easy to buy stolen credit card data from ATM skimmers and through sites on the dark web, why would any thief go to the trouble to do it any other way? Wouldn't they choose the "most efficient" option? Why do so much work for just a little gain?
Personally, I'm not convinced.
The fact that someone intending me ill, can target my wallet with a RFID reader and get enough of my personal information to conduct identity theft, and rack up one big purchase on my credit card is scary. It'll involve visits to the police station to clear up, god knows how much time spent on the phone to my bank, and all of which is just a major hassle.
Because what all these experts tell you is a bit narrow minded.
Sure, a thief may just get your credit card number and expiry date from your credit card. But if they happen to know your address because they've been actively targeting you, or scrape other data from your license or passport, things start spiraling towards identity theft really fast.
- Ruining your credit score until you've spent weeks undoing the damage.
- Wasting your time on calls with banks and other service providers to stop it spreading.
Heck, a smart thief could even take the information they've stolen, and use it to create a dummy credit card they can use with a legitimate merchant device to run up charges.
Effectively bypassing all of the safeguards that the credit card companies have put in place with one-time authentications. Or they could do it even easier if they fence your card to any unscrupulous merchants willing to accept your stolen cards. Even if it only works once, a $500+ transaction would kill my finances until it was all sorted out. And that's a risk I'm not willing to take.
Especially as it's so easy to do.
Buying a RFID scanner will set you back under a hundred bucks. That all it takes for a thief to start using this technology to steal your information, and potentially cause major issues in your life. It's scary it's so affordable, and a quick online search shows just how readily available they are.
I'm not willing to be a victim. Even if there's only a small chance this could happen to me, choosing to remain ignorant of the danger isn't the way I live my life. Being a survivalist is about embracing the risks, and putting plans, preparations and strategies in place to ensure I'm never caught out.
- There's a small chance I'll become victim of a home invasion, but you can bet I've armed myself and my family knows what to do, just in case.
- There's a small chance I'll need the 8+ months of stockpiled food and water at some point over the next few years, but my family won't go without, just in case.
- There's a small chance my family will need to evacuate our home and disappear into our bug out location in the mountains, but we've got it set up, just in case.
If there's even a small chance I could be targeted and have my information stolen from a thief with an RFID scanner, it's not in me to not to take the steps to prepare. Especially as it's rather easy to defend against. All you need is a RFID blocking wallet.
A wallet that's been specially designed to block the signals a RFID scanner sends. when your credit cards are in a secure RFID wallet, nothing can get through. Just make sure you find one that's streamlined, and able to carry and protect all the cards you need.
That's when you'll have real peace of mind, and can walk happily through a crowded place knowing your cards and personal information is completely secure.