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Wallet Invention Aims to Block Electronic Thieves

Published: Friday, April 11, 2008 8:09 AM EST     1408 Views
Author: Nicole Hait
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In a world of constantly evolving technology, often times the benefits of new inventions are accompanied by entirely new sets of problems. A prime example of this is the way electronic data transmission, which has made shopping so quick and easy, also has contributed to the meteoric rise of identity theft. Now, new inventions are emerging to combat that problem.

One such invention is the DIFRWear RFID Blocking Wallet. Though it looks just like a standard wallet (produced in leather, available in three different colors), the Blocking Wallet contains an internal component to keep RFID cards from being “skimmed” by technologically savvy thieves. For those who don’t know, RFID stands for radio-frequency identification. RFID products store information on small microchips and incorporate a transponder that is capable of transmitting the information to other sources. RFID products are commonly seen in the transportation passes that allow individuals to be charged for highway tolls automatically and in key fobs that enable entry to buildings. Some examples of RFID products that contain confidential personal information are U.S. passports, identification cards and certain types of major credit cards. In the past couple years, Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have made available RFID products that can be scanned at registers without actually swiping a card.

Credit card companies claim they design RFID products with security in mind - assuring they can only be read from short distances and encrypting information. However, many still question the security of RFID cards. Theoretically, a high-tech thief could construct a device the size of a paperback book and sit on a bench and skim information contained on the RFID cards of passersby. After including the RFID component in passports in 2006, it was quickly realized that, with the right equipment, information could be read from over 30 feet away. The U.S. responded to this problem by inserting metal plates into passport cases so that information could not be “leaked” when the cases were closed.

DIFRWear incorporates a similar idea into their RFID Blocking Wallets. The wallets contain a layer of shielding that prevents thieves from picking up any RFID transmissions coming out of a person’s wallet. When a person wants to use the card, they simply flip open the wallet for quick and easy scanning. Any time the wallet is closed, the metal plates block the radio frequencies from being transmitted outside of the wallet (essentially, the plates act as walls that transmissions cannot get through). While an accessory like this wallet might have once found a market only with the overly paranoid, it may become a viable option now that identity theft is such a major concern. And, with a cost comparable to a traditional wallet ($19.99), it’s not an altogether impractical purchase.

The DIFRWear RFID Blocking Wallet is available for purchase on the DIFRWear Web site  for $19.99 plus $3 worldwide shipping.

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