Another Day, Another Trip:
So there I was, minding my own business after spending a grueling 12 hours hopping between airports on flights. I was exhausted, and there was nothing I wanted more than a hot meal and a good night’s sleep. After checking into my pre-booked hotel, I wearily sat down in the restaurant booth and enjoyed what was the best meal I’d had in a very long time. As the waitstaff slipped me the bill, I discretely inserted my credit card into the bill slot and waited for my receipt to be returned. After only a few short moments the attendant returned to the table to let me know my card had been declined. As I had paid off the balance only yesterday this news was extremely puzzling. I pulled out another card, paid the bill and made my way back to my room.
3 Hours and Several Phone Calls Later…
I’m not really sure if the hours felt short or long at this point. My credit card was stolen and I was the victim of fraud. Again. “Again” you say? Yes. My first time, if you can call it that, I was still in college, and my Visa card was used to buy a version of Google Earth after they siphoned off several small money amounts. Being without a credit card when you are broke (and your parents help pay for your credit card bills so you can eat) is the worst feeling ever. For my second case of fraud, I didn’t actually notice any transactions on my card. I was told that my card had been flagged in the police database, and I was being issued a new card. This most recent fraud case took the cake though – I still had 2 weeks of a business trip in front of me and wasn’t crazy about using personal funds to front it.
Credit Card Fraud – A Victimless Crime?
No. It’s not a victimless crime. Although my stories of credit card fraud are pretty minor and didn’t impact my livelihood, I can see the ways that it could for other people. The only benefit to credit card fraud over debit card fraud is that at least the credit card company will replace the funds, whereas you may be left holding the bill if someone swipes money from your debit card. All of that being said, I think there MUST be a way to protect yourself and your identification while you travel. That’s where all the research began.
Travel Security & RFID Blockers
The industry trend is tailored towards speed and ease. Back in the day your credit card would be carbon copy printed and even paper checks were accepted. You essentially could pay for items and have them in your home before the money was even transferred out of your account. Improvements such as plastic cards along with chip readers have definitely improved and sped up the money transferring process. The latest of all these hot, new technologies is RFID – Radio Frequency Identification tags. Essentially a small and intelligent bar code, there is the possibility of storing and tracking almost any amount of information, which is available upon scanning.
You might be thinking WELL, HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO ME?!
It does, trust me. Did you know that your credit card, passport and frequent-travel pass such as Global Entry (Trusted traveler or Nexus) use RFID technology? Think of the last time you went to buy a coffee and they used your tap function on your credit card to pay without even entering a pin or swiping your card. That’s RFID at work. Did you know that when you have these cards out they can be tracked from a distance of 20 to 30 feet? So picture this, you could be walking through the airport not even close to anyone, and they could use a computer or device to upload all of your stowed RFID transmitting information from a nearby bench. While I can appreciate a good piece of technology as much as the next person, this terrifies me.
How RFID Blockers Keep You Safe
So after the last fraud case I decided to do a bit of research and to take some measures to protect myself while I am on the road. I acquired some new snazzy RFID blocker sleeves which I use for my credit cards, Nexus pass and passport. As an added bonus most travel retailers and stores have anticipated the growing need for RFID blockers and sell wallets and passport cases that already have these blocking features added in. If you note the little logo on the bottom, it’s usually an indication that they are blockers! They work very simply: when you have the card in the sleeve there is a barrier that blocks the RFID functions from transmitting and when you slide them out they retain their functions and magnetic capabilities.
Variety of Products
RFID blockers don’t have to be ugly. The travel wallet from Lewis N. Clark is the perfect size and discrete in black leather. It has the perfect amount of slots for holding all of my credit cards. Their elegant passport case is of typical size and weight as any other passport case on the market. Adding the RFID technology just makes you safer, and is not an inconvenience. My absolute favorite are the credit card sleeves, which I also use to hold my Nexus pass. The sleeves are of simple design and contain a metal liner which prevents the cards from transmitting all of their information while they are in the sleeve. As I mentioned above, don’t worry, you cards will retain their functionality and magnetic capabilities once they are removed from the sleeve. With these technology add-ons, even if there isn’t a malicious hacker on every street corner waiting to steal my identity, I definitely feel a little bit safer as I pack my suitcase today.
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Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, however I am a Brand Ambassador for Lewis N. Clark. I received several RFID blocking products in return for a review on them. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.
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