Monday, August 12, 2013

Make it Better: RFID-Blocking Wallet DIY

Last week, a friend of mine finished working out at the gym and headed into the locker room to discover that the lock on his locker had been cut.

When he opened the locker, he was relieved to find that his iPhone had not been taken, and that while the cash had been stolen from his wallet, his credit cards were still in place. He noticed that an app icon on his iPhone's main screen had moved, but didn't think too much about it. Given that it was just $5 in cash that had been stolen, he was hesitant to file a police report, but at the urging of his fiance, he did file one.

A few days later, low and behold, charges that were not his started appearing on his credit cards. He believes the thief made some kind of copy of his cards, and because he has the police report, he will have an easier time getting those charges dismissed by his credit card company.

He also realized that the thief must have accidentally moved the app icon on his phone while checking the settings to see if it was a Verizon phone. Verizon, Sprint, and a few other companies are known for "bricking" stolen phones, or remotely disabling them so that the phone becomes useless. (Due to the shape and lack of usefulness, the phone then resembles a brick.) Clearly, the thief knew what he was doing, even though at first glance it appeared that he had only stolen the cash in the wallet. My friend was wise to file that police report, and going forward, he intends to use a sturdier lock than he had been using.

While talking about theft, our conversation turned to his metal wallet. Metal wallets can protect against thieves stealing credit card information wirelessly, a scam which allows a thief to steal one's information even if the credit card does not leave the owner's pocket. The metal interferes with the radio frequencies, or RFID, that are used in these scams, and there are a good deal of wallets available that bill themselves as protection against this type of non-contact theft. While many of these wallets can interfere with the skimmers, most will not protect entirely. Still, they are a good idea, because they do make it more difficult for the thieves.

Being a picky shopper, I haven't found a wallet with this protection that appeals to me visually, holds what I want it to hold, and is a price point I want to pay. Luckily, there is an easy solution to my dilemma -- if one simply lines her wallet with tin foil, the aluminum works the same way as the metal in the protective wallets. In security tests, Consumer Reports explains that this homemade version worked as well as, or better than, the RFID-blocking wallets tested, and only requires one sheet of aluminum foil to work.

Here's a quick way to make any type of wallet into a RFID blocking wallet.

Supplies Needed:
-Aluminum foil
-Two business cards
-Scissors

Wrap the cards in the foil, add one to the front of the wallet, and one to the back.





Lining the wallet won't protect against a thief in the locker room, but it does allow one to use any wallet she chooses, while still being able to protect herself from non-contact theft on the subway, or anywhere else a thief may try this scam.


Total cost: $0








No comments:

Post a Comment

"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut