There are plenty of reasons to worry about the security of your personal information these days, including the protection of your credit card accounts and online passwords. According to 2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity from Javelin Strategy & Research, there were 16.7 victims of identity fraud in 2017. Some of those victims had their identities stolen altogether while others only had their credit card numbers or personal information hacked by fraudsters.
For these reasons and others, many consumers have started looking for ways to fight back — or at least protect their personal information. Common strategies include signing up for credit monitoring or for password managers, but many also buy RFID blocking wallets as well.
What is an RFID Blocking Wallet?
In case you’re wondering how an RFID blocking wallet works, keep in mind that thieves are forced to try increasingly complex schemes as technology improves. RFID blocking wallets, sleeves, and other products with RFID protection block fraudsters from stealing information from RFID-enabled credit cards.
Without protection from RFID waves, thieves and scammers can use tiny devices to get close to your wallet and steal your credit card information with a simple scan. With an RFID blocking wallet — or a similar contraption — on the other hand, your RFID-enabled credit cards, which could include every card you own, would be safe.
Why RFID Blocking Wallets May Not Be Worth It
Do you really need to head to your favorite personal goods or online store to purchase a wallet with this type of protection? Some experts may argue that it’s better than nothing, and they may be right, but research shows the purchase may not leave you any better off.
For starters, RFID technology can be drastically overstated by — you guessed it — the companies who make money selling these products. While RFID blocking wallets may protect your credit card information from being stolen, so can a few thick sheets of aluminum foil.
Second, most credit cards already come with the best protection against theft anyone can get — zero fraud liability. This means that, with most popular rewards credit cards on the market today, you won’t be liable for any fraudulent charges made with your credit card number or your physical card.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) also limits liability for fraudulent purchases on all credit cards to just $50 once a fraudulent purchase is made. So, no matter what card you have, your total liability tops out at $50 if a fraudster gets their hands on your credit card digits.
With these details in mind, some say RFID blocking wallets are mostly hype created by companies that stand to profit off of consumer fears. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy one for some peace of mind, but you don’t absolutely need one, either.
Better Ways to Protect Against Credit Card Fraud
We already mentioned how most credit cards offer zero fraud liability anyway, but there are still steps you can take to protect yourself against fraud concerning your credit card accounts. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests the following steps for anyone who wants to prevent thieves from stealing their credit card details:
- Never share your account number on the phone. The FTC says this rule applies unless you’ve made a call to a company you already have a relationship with. Even then, you should only give your credit card number on the phone if you know they’re reputable.
- Carry your credit cards separate from your wallet. This can “minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse,” notes the FTC. “And carry only the card you need for that outing.”
- Never let someone carry your card away from you when you make a purchase. This tip is especially applicable at restaurants where servers may try to take your credit card to the back of the house to run your transaction.
- Never sign a blank receipt, no matter what. The FTC even suggests drawing a line through any blank spaces above the total.
- Compare all your credit card receipts with your statement every month. If you don’t compare your receipts to your credit card bill, you may never notice small fraudulent charges.
- Open credit card bills promptly or log in regularly to check them online.
- Report any fraudulent or questionable purchases to your credit card issuer the moment you find them.
- Never write your credit card number down and leave it with anyone. Also make sure you never log into your credit card accounts on a public computer.
- Notify your card issuer if your address changes right away.
It can also help to keep your credit card numbers and the 1-800 numbers on the back of your cards in a safe place within your home. That way, you have a running list of the cards you have and how to contact customer service right away.
If you do find a fraudulent purchase was made with one of your credit cards, reporting it the moment you find out is your best bet. Your card issuer will begin an investigation once you file a complaint, but they’ll also issue you a new credit card and credit card number.
The Bottom Line
Do you really need an RFID blocking wallet? Probably not, but having one won’t cause any harm, either. If you want to buy one, go ahead. You may sleep better at night knowing thieves with special scanners can’t simply pass you in the street, turn their scanner on, and steal your credit card information.
Then again, you have little to worry about when it comes to the safety of credit cards in general. Thanks to robust consumer protections and zero fraud liability offered by credit cards today, you can use plastic whenever you make a purchase without worrying about being on the hook for fraudulent charges.
RFID blocking wallets offer an extra layer of protection, but most of us can live without it.
Editorial Disclaimer: Information in these articles is brought to you by CreditSoup. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies mentioned in the articles do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for, the contents of the articles. The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted; however, all credit card information is presented without warranty. Please check the issuer’s website for the most current information.