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How Can I Determine If Any of My Credit Cards Have an RFID chip?

Posted By RFID Journal, 11.03.2011
Tags: Privacy
If I wanted to order protection sleeves, could you provide me with a phone number for placing an order? And even with the use of protection sleeves, isn't there still a chance that my card could be scanned by someone else when I took it out to make a purchase?


Dear Tim,

Credit cards with RFID transponders usually have a symbol on them that resembles a representation of energy from a reader. Sometimes, you can actually see the RFID antenna embedded within the credit card.

We don't sell protective sleeves, but you can buy one from a number of companies online, including Identity Stronghold.

The transponder in a credit card is designed to be very short-range (it can be read from only a few inches away). Someone would have to be standing next to you and pointing a reader at your card in order to read the card, or build a special reader that would emit energy at a much higher level in order to increase the read range. So it's not impossible—but it
is highly unlikely that someone could steal your credit-card information in this manner.

Moreover, RFID credit cards are much safer than magnetic-stripe credit cards. One reason is that during an RFID transaction, the card never leaves your hand. In many cases, people are asked to hand over a magstripe card to a waiter or a gas-station attendant to swipe, thereby providing an opportunity for that individual to swipe the card through a device designed to capture all of the card's information—and potentially photocopy the back as well, so that the signature can be forged.

There are other more technical reasons why RFID-enabled cards are safer. For an explanation, see Are RFID-Enabled Credit Cards Safer Than Magstripe Cards?

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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