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Passport Safety: Protecting Your RFID Passport (and Credit Cards) From Scammers

Passports and credit cards now use something called RFID technology, making it faster and easier to swipe and go. However, this technology comes with its fair share of risks as RFID chips are prone to wireless identity theft. Although there have been a number of measures taken in an attempt to reduce these types of incidents, they do still occur. Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions regarding RFID technology and how you can protect yourself from scammers while traveling.


What is RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This technology involves tiny chips found on passports, IDs, credit cards and more that store information and can be read wirelessly.

What do RFID chips contain?

RFID chips may contain personal and financial information, unique reference numbers and even a digital copy of your passport photo. For passports, what exactly is stored on the chip varies by country.

How can I tell if my passport or credit card uses RFID technology?

If you have received a new passport after August 2007, you can be sure it’s utilizing RFID technology. You may notice a small logo on the front of your passport signifying that it is an e-passport and has an RFID chip in it. Your credit cards will also be marked with a logo or it will say “PayWave,” “PayPass” or “blink” on the front or back of it. If you are unsure, simply call your bank and ask.

Is it really that easy for a scammer to get my information?

Yes. Anyone with a RFID reader can get your information if they are close enough to the chip. The scanners necessary to snag your information are relatively easy and cheap to make, which is part of the reason why this type of scam is so popular.

What is the best way to protect my passport and my credit cards while traveling?

  • There are products available that will completely block scanners from getting your information. It’s a common myth that wrapping your passports and cards in aluminum foil will do the trick and while it may help, it won’t completely protect you. Shop for an RFID-blocking wallet, sleeve or bag before you leave on your next trip.
  • Stack RFID cards in your wallet. This makes them harder for a scanner to read just one of them.
  • Keep your passport closed as much as possible. The passport cover will offer some protection against someone scanning your chip but when the passport is open (even slightly), the chip can easily be read.

How do you protect yourself from wireless identity theft while on the road? Share your tips with us!

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