By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) — Take a close look at your credit and debit cards. Do any of them have a chip embedded in the front and a small icon with a set of concentric lines? If so, it’s an RFID (radio frequency identity) card—a “contactless” card that can be read from a nearby point-of-sale terminal or at transit terminal access points. Just tap your card and you’re done—no more swiping, signing or pin numbers required!
The U.S. has lagged among developed countries in adopting contactless and Chip & Pintechnology, but this will soon change: EMVCo, the global governing body for all credit and debit cards, has mandated that retailers must be able to accept contactless and/or Chip & Pincards by October 2015. If retailers and banks don’t comply, then fraud liability shifts from card issuers to them. Consequently, the provision of contactless and Chip & Pin cards by U.S. banks is likely to explode over the next year.
But this presents a problem: contactless cards, by design, can be read at distances of anywhere between a few inches and a few feet. This presents the opportunity for credit card thieves to “mug” you for your cards without ever touching you. Standing next to you in a crowd and holding their Smartphone up to your purse or wallet is all it takes to extract the data encoded on your RFID cards. With an RFID transmitter/receiver in a backpack, thieves can literally walk through a crowd or a store and “sweep” multiple cards. A more common problem is “card clash.” Because all contactless cards operate on the same radio frequency, when a receiver transmits its signal it will read the first card in your wallet or purse that returns the radio signal—meaning the consumer can easily pay with the wrong card.
Now a company called iD CardGuard is marketing a patented RFID shield, called VoyagerBlue®, in the U.S. that can prevent contactless credit and debit card data from being stolen by thieves or accidentally read. The shield is the same size as a credit card and can fit in any wallet, right alongside your credit and debit cards. For maximum protection, two shields can be placed in both sides of a wallet. The shields are likely to appeal to various companies, as they can be branded front and back with a corporate logo—making them the ideal loyalty/membership card, for example.
Phillip Wren, President of iD CardGuard, says, “RFID shields are increasingly being used in Europe to address the problems of contactless credit/debit card data theft and ‘card clash’ and we are experiencing tremendous sales growth over there. We believe that as U.S. banks ramp up the distribution of RFID cards, U.S. consumers will increasingly see the need for RFID shields as well.”
Because contactless credit and debit cards do not require a pin number or a signature to pay, iD CardGuard also offers two Bluetooth loss-prevention products: a “WalletTag” and “SmartTag.” These tags alert your Smartphone should you lose your wallet or purse enabling you to cancel your cards without delay. Place the WalletTag inside your wallet or purse; if you lose it, your Smartphone will alert you immediately via an App that will sound an alarm from as little as a few feet away. If your item has been left somewhere, you can view a map pin-drop of where you were when the item was separated from your phone. Meanwhile, the SmartTag can be clipped onto your valuables, keys or kids! When you’re separated from the tagged item, an alarm sounds on your Smartphone and the tag. Once again, a map pin-drop feature is included; if you lose your phone instead, the tags can send an audible alarm to the phone. You can also customize the tags with item-specific names and ringtones within the free App. With a recently awarded U.S. patent on the combined shielding and loss prevention devices and other pending patents, the company is experiencing a healthy increase in inquiries.
iD CardGuard’s RFID shields—and its loss-prevention products—offer the promise of better security in an increasingly high-tech world.