Can My Bank Cards Be Scanned By Illegal Methods When They Are in My Wallet?

By RFID Journal

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Ask The ExpertsCan My Bank Cards Be Scanned By Illegal Methods When They Are in My Wallet?
RFID Journal Staff asked 5 years ago

Is this something about which I should be concerned?

—Ian

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Ian,

Banks have been phasing out RFID in credit cards and issuing cards containing a chip that must then be inserted into a point-of-sale reader. If you have a credit card with an RFID tag transponder in it, it is possible—but extremely unlikely—that someone could read that transponder and obtain your name, credit card number and expiration date. This is the information printed on the card. They might also get an electronic CCV code (the number printed on the back of the card).

The way an RFID-enabled card works, the CVV is reset every time it is used. If a person tried to use your card online, it would not work because the CCV in the tag would be different than the one on the card, and could only be used for a physical transaction, in which the card would be present and the tag would be interrogated. If someone cloned a chip and tried to use it, it would only work once since the CCV would not be valid after that point. This is what makes RFID cards so much more secure than magnetic-stripe cards.

So, the bottom line is this: Yes, your card could be read, but it is very unlikely. In fact, I’ve never seen even a single case in which this was reported. Even if it were read, no one could use it without cloning your card, which would not be easy to do—and even if they did clone your card, they could only use it once, after which it would be useless. If you are still worried despite this, simply wrap your credit card in aluminum foil and stick it in your wallet, or line your wallet with foil. This would prevent the tag from being read.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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