Many travelers learn about the topic of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) the hard way. All of the sudden, unauthorized charges begin to appear. Data considered safe and secure on passports, credit cards, debit cards, corporate identification cards, student ID cards, and even driver licenses has been compromised. Never mind that those cards and documents never left us, were locked in a cruise ship safe or not taken along at all when traveling. Identity theft is a growing concern as issuing authorities scramble to come up with better security. Still, there are steps we can take as travelers to minimize the odds of being hacked while traveling.
Avoid Being Hacked While Traveling- A Brief Background
Twitter version: RFID today is what barcodes were 20 years ago.
Detailed version: RFID incorporates the use of the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify (ID) an object, animal, or person. An alterative to bar codes, the advantage of RFID is that it does not require scanning. An RFID tag (transponder) is recognized by a reader (antenna and transceiver)
We first saw travel products with RFID protection when reviewing the SCOTTeVEST which comes complete with RFID-blocking pockets. When RFID-enabled documents, credit cards and identification is inside those pockets, RFID readers can’t ‘see’ them and so can’t copy your sensitive information. Before SCOTTeVEST Travel Vest our best recommendation to address credit card security while traveling abroad was to stay clear of ATM machines where sketchy people seemed to be ‘hanging around’, perhaps waiting to retrieve an RFID reader they had attached to the ATM to steal your identification.
Hacked While Traveling: Odds Are Not On Our Side, Yet
But what if a travel vest is not for you? There are other products as well with RFID blocking areas now that bring a variety of options to travelers, in new and improved ways. That’s important because it turns out that there are 10 current frequencies we need to be shielded from. Conventional RFID blockers only address a portion of these frequencies. Like stations on a radio, different items work on different frequencies. Access key cards are tagged at 125 kHz, electronic passports or credit cards at 13.56 MHz and personnel ID cards at 2.54 GHz.
New Products Help Avoid Being Hacked While Traveling
The Pagalli Project is launching a collection of three leather wallets that offer the world’s strongest ID theft protection against all known frequencies. The blocking foil is the most expensive raw material used in its wallets ensuring that traveler identities are protected in any country on the planet.
We tested a Pagalli Project wallet on a recent trip. That it has advanced RFID/NFC blocking technology is great but that the company also spent time focusing on design and functionality is a bonus. I often take along a document holder that may have space for a number of credit/debit cards, passports, documents and local currency for the country I will be arriving in. I think it’s a good idea t0 have some in hand upon arriving, just in case cruise line transfers fail and we’re left getting to the ship on our own.
Features we like about this product:
- 2 RFID shielded multiple cards compartments.
- 1 sim card holder.
- 1 bank notes & boarding pass compartment.
- Passport pocket (up to 2 passports or one really thick one).
- Slim style Pagalli Pen included.
- Compact size – 4.53″ x 5.71″ x 0.39″
- Does not weigh much
We’ll have more products to share with you on this topic shortly. This topic does not seem to be going away any time soon.
Here’s more on the Pagalli Project wallet: