'Identity Theft-Proof' Wallet Blocks RFID, Goes In Front Pocket

If you’re concerned about your RFID-chipped credit cards being skimmed, you might want to consider shielding them. DIFRwear makes a wallet with the shielding already included, and now roguewallet in Maine has introduced its own RFID-shielded version, with a fin-shaped design so it fits better in your front pocket to thwart pickpockets. Unfortunately, it’s also $50, compared to $20 for the more conventional looking DIFRwear hip-pocket design. (Both are FIPS 201 compliant, if that means anything to you.)

Or, if you want to go the really cash-conscious route, make your own.

roguewallet.com (Thanks to Wells!)

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  1. MissTicklebritches says:

    To hell with it. I’m just going to wrap myself in duct tape tonight.

  2. ironchef says:

    best advice to thwart pickpockets is to wrap your wallet with a single thick rubberband.
    It snags your pocket just slightly enough that you’d feel it. But it won’t make it a bother to take out.

  3. sir_eccles says:

    I’ve always kept my wallet in my front pocket, never understood the whole back pocket deal.

  4. shepd says:

    Sweet. I will get one of these instead of smashing the RFID chip on my CC.

    What retard thought it would be a good idea to just require proximity (not even a PIN code for crying out loud!) to pay? Hello breifcase with automatic card debiter in a big crowd…

    Of course, I have the smartcard chip taped too — not because I don’t trust it for credit cards — but because I don’t trust the register (and the bank). With just a piece of tape, the overzealous-for-chipcards cashier at Zellers crashed her terminal hard just “swiping” my card. Incredible. If the programming is that “good”, and considering most smartcards are read-write, I don’t trust that the chip won’t end up screwed up.

    At least with the mag stripe I know for certain what’s on the card, and no matter how poorly programmed the register is, as long as there’s no erase/write head in the reader (and there shouldn’t be), my card is safe from stupidity.

    What’s the benefit of the chip, anyways? If it includes a secret/crypt key in there to prevent copying, great, but then I have no idea what else is stored on the card. And considering how stupid most banks/cc companies are (look at how often their databases are compromised), I don’t trust some idiot programmer *not* to store a PIN or other info on the chip where it doesn’t belong.

    If it weren’t for the monthly occurrence of a bank being hacked, and the hourly occurrence of smartcards being hacked (owning a satellite store, you learn just how *terrible* smartcards are for security — you’d do better locking a secret in a safe!), I might have a different opinion on the matter…

  5. Jabberkaty says:

    Yay, Maine!

  6. azureice says:

    The data stored on the RFID chip is the same kind of data on the magnetic strip. I know for Amex it’s actually a different card number and just VALUED CUSTOMER for the name. But there isn’t any additional data on it.

    This is to allow for easy system upgrades – you can just add an RFID reader to any register, and as far as the comptuer is concerned you just swiped a card with the mag strip.

    • quail says:

      @azureice: Yea, but with that information it would be easy to create a duplicate RFID chip. Then the thief puts the chip into a phony card and scans it at registers the way you would have. And how many cashiers check the quick scan cards anyway with the person’s identity?

      RFID in a financial instrument makes no sense to me either. The idea is to get more people using their cards without thinking. The less work the consumer has to do the more likely they are to go into debt.

      As to the RFID chips, you can microwave them but that leaves a telltale sign. You can take a hammer to them and pound away. It’ll kill the chip without leaving a mark for the most part. Or better yet, contact the credit card company and ask for a card without a chip. I hear that works too.

      • azureice says:

        @quail: It’s not that simple. Credit cards use ISO 14443B, a protocol not used in many other areas of RFID, so readers/writers for them are less common. Additionally, the data on the card IS encrypted. It’s not like a mag stripe where you can just copy and paste on to another card. It would require a few hundred dollars of equipment and a lot of skill to do it – and to my knowledge the direct cloning of a credit card has not been done yet.

  7. dorianh49 says:

    Looks like a carryall. Is it European?

  8. azureice says:

    The data stored on the RFID chip is the same type/format of data on the magnetic strip. This is to allow for seamless upgrades to RFID – you can add a reader to any register connected with serial, just like you would a regualar mag strip reader, and the computer won’t know the difference.

    There isn’t any additional data on the card. I do know that for Amex, the card number/name is different than your regular number, and your name is listed as “VALUED CUSTOMER”.

  9. briancavner says:

    How strong do these RFID chips broadcast? I was under the impression that they needed to be naked and fairly close to be scanned. Wouldn’t being contained in a wallet in a pocket be enough natural shielding?

    • shepd says:

      @briancavner: RFID chips normally only have a range measured in inches. A modified reader (which is powering the RFID chip) can have a more sensitive/powerful antenna and can read from 1 or more meters away.

    • chrisjames says:

      @briancavner: I’d scan my RFID enabled card without even opening my wallet (lazy). A few times I managed to wiggle my butt up close enough to the reader to get a successful scan from a few feet away (damned lazy). A pickpocket has to have their hand in your ass pocket to get at your wallet, so they’ll probably have no issue with holding a reader inches away from your ass (or side) pocket to get a reading.

      Also, that fin-shaped design: coming to a point at your waist-line? Get two of them and you’ve got a solution to your bad posture, akin to that maniacally-designed belt that shocks your belly all day long.

  10. Cliff_Donner says:

    And they all laughed at my tin foil hat.

    Who’s laughing now???

  11. tator says:

    Put it in a microwave. The circuit will energize, arc and self destruct (just like putting steel wool in the microwave). Let them enter the number manually.

    • shepd says:

      @tator:
      I’ve microwaved the cards before. It leaves VERY obvious melt marks where the antenna is, and that’s with only 3 seconds of microwaving… :-(

  12. BrianDaBrain says:

    RFID = Stupid. There is no point other than credit card companies catering to laziness. My credit card does have RFID and none I ever own will. I’d sooner close my account.

  13. Brunette Bookworm says:

    My boyfriend has had one of those RFID blocking wallets for a couple years now. I sent him the link to it knowing he’d want one. Yeah, he’s a bit paranoid but he usually ends up being correct, so…

  14. Cafezinha says:

    My husband has been keeping his wallet in his front pocket lately because of the weird sciatic pain he gets from sitting on it. I think he’d really enjoy this. *files away idea for Christmas*

    Now I just have to hope he doesn’t get a wild hair up his arse and decide to read Consumerist today and spoil the surprise. =)

    • I have a $5.99 solution.

      My beloved husband can not hold on to his wallet. He is pretty tall, and tends to slouch into chairs. When he gets up, everything from phones to car keys to wallets slide from his front pockets into the chair.

      In desperation, we tried a hard metal case from Umbra. [www.umbra.com]
      Not only does it keep the number of cards and crap he carries down, but it has a bungee cord lid that he can attach to a retractable clip.

      The best part though- This thing does not let anything out RFIDwise. And it only costs $5.99. It comes in bright colors for the lids as well as black and white.

  15. Scoobatz says:

    That wallet looks way too big. I have a better idea. Use non-RFID cards and carry a money clip in your front pocket. You’ll be amazed at how much stuff you’ve been carrying around that you don’t need on a typical day.

  16. EBone says:

    Identity Theft-Proof’ Wallet Blocks RFID, Goes In Front Pocket

    They forgot fugly in the description.

  17. akalish says:

    I like my fancy shmancy purty wallet. Would it work to put a few layers of duct tape just over the RFID antenna/chip (front and back)?

    Incidentally, I _begged_ Chase to give me an old card when they started issuing the Blink cards and they refused. Nice, right?

    • spanky says:

      @akalish: Duct tape wouldn’t block the RFID. It’s just vinyl and fabric and stuff like that. You’d need metal tape for that.

      I have a single layer of metal tape on the inside of my duct tape wallet, and I haven’t tested it much, but it does at least block those keyless door locks. Also, it creates a mirror effect inside the billfold, which makes it look like you have twice as much money.

      People treat you with a lot more respect when they think you have six dollars, let me tell you.

  18. shepd says:

    Hmmm, I guess you’re all thinking of a different kind of RFID theft. It’s too complicated for the average criminal to duplicate RFID chips (right now). It’s a lot easier to get ahold of a cellular credit card charge terminal (just open up a legit-looking business and you’re gold). Stick that in a briefcase with a power source (a small UPS for the extremely lazy, batteries and a regulator for people who passed EE 101 ). Punch in the amount to steal, and bump into someone. Don’t forget to disable the beepers! Easy money!

    Once you feel you’ve stolen enough (and this is where the criminal loses their mind and gets caught, of course, since no criminal feels they’ve stolen enough), take the money out of the bank account before the victims moan, and run.

  19. nerdychaz says:

    As a hobby, I make leather products. This one could actually have a market! I am so excited! I want to go home and make a tinfoil lined wallet now!

  20. Ben Popken says:

    Can I modify the same basic design and materials into something that might go on my head?

  21. unangbangkay says:

    That’s all well and good, but what if someone physically nabs your wallet? Unless rfID shielding also includes a force field it’s kind of like a band-aid on a stab wound re: id theft. And you can get an protection service for a 3rd of that yearly, like trustedid or some other crazy thing. Still, SCIENCE!

  22. ZukeZuke says:

    “Is that an identity theft-proof wallet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”