What Is RFID?
RFID = Radio Frequency Identification Device
It wasn’t until I received my new passport in the mail that I noticed a small gold emblem at the bottom of the front cover of my passport.
It had been nine and a half years since I last renewed my passport so all of this RFID talk was completely German to me.
What most people don’t know is that United States passport holders are not the only ones with RFID chips in our passports.
As a matter of fact, many countries already have integrated RFID chips in their passports.
Did you know: Some U.S. credit cards have integrated RFID chips. In 2011, the Nilson Report stated that there were some 35 million contactless chip cards in circulation.
How Do I Know If I Have an RFID Passport?
If you have a RFID chip in your passport, you’ll notice a small logo at the bottom center of your passport that looks like this.
According to “big brother”, having an RFID chip in your passport makes it easier for customs and immigration officials to quickly and easily identify you.
Wait, so you’re trying to tell me that my old passport isn’t quick enough?
I can’t remember a time that I stepped up to the immigration booth and spent more than three minutes as my information was being processed.
Oh, other than that one time that I returned from a six month around the world trip that included three trips to Egypt in the span of those six months. Yeah, I had a lot of explaining to do.
Okay, fine. Put a chip in my passport. But, before you do, are there risks involved?
The Dangers of RFID Theft
“RFID chips are basically tiny two-way radios that are so small they can fit inside a credit card, an article of clothing, the inside of a shampoo bottle cap, etc.,” he explains.
The chip, essentially a transponder, carries identifying data and can be queried and read, or “sniffed,” at a distance.” – Source.
RFID chips contain an electronic version of your passport data, your photograph, and sometimes even fingerprints depending on the issuing country.
Your personal data + a wireless chip that broadcasts signals in the air that can be easily intercepted by thieves. RFID theft sure doesn’t sound so good!
Did you know: According to Tamperseal.com, criminals can purchase RFID readers on eBay for as little as $8 dollars.
How To Protect Yourself From RFID Theft
The first step in RFID theft prevention for travelers would be to purchase a RFID Blocking Passport Jacket.
Even if RFID theft isn’t as dangerous as some claim it to be, I think that it’s totally worth the small investment to pick yourself up a slick new passport jacket that doubles as a safety net between your information and the thieves trying to access it.
RFID Passport Jackets
RFID Passport Wallets
If you’re looking for something to store both your RFID passport and your RFID credit card, go for an all-in-one RFID Blocking Passport Wallet.
Tip: If you’re carrying your passport in your pocket or your purse, make sure it’s completely closed. The cover of your passport will provide some shielding to the RFID chip, but only if it’s fully closed.
Should I Be Worried About RFID Theft?
So, is RFID theft something that
I don’t believe so. While RFID readers can be purchased on the cheap, I imagine the odds of someone actually swiping the data from your passport is a pretty rare occurrence.
Plus, I’m willing to bet the potential thief really has to know what he’s doing in order to get his or her dirty little paws on your data.
Then again, considering how inexpensive RFID Blocking Passport jackets are these days, wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?
Are you worried about RFID theft? Weigh in by leaving a comment below.