RFID Blocking cards – Prevent thieves from scanning your wallet

Gecko Media supplies RFID blocking cards in bulk.  We can add your logo to these cards in order for them to be used as corporate gifts.

Understanding RFID blocking cards

EMV cards also known as chip and pin cards have been rolled out by the four major South African banks since 2009.  These can be identified by the little wireless or Wi-Fi symbol on the card as can be seen below.

Any card with this symbol can be read using an RFID or NFC reader.  RFID blocking cards stop unwanted scanning of your credit cards by thieves by using what’s called passive deflection technology.

How these RFID blocking cards work

RFID readers transmit electromagnetic signals which power the microchip in the card, the same way induction charging works.  The microchip in the card powers up and sends stored data back to the reader.   RFID blocking blocks or deflects the readers transmitted signal power, therefore, preventing the microchip in the RFID card from transmitting your sensitive data.

RFID card blockers 3
RFID blocking card with no wifi sign
RFID card blocker 4
RFID blocking card in wallet

RFID blocking card design

We have imported black cards with the design as shown on the right-hand side.  We overprint your or your customer’s logo onto the card above the wording.

Printing process

We print using a digit UV printer in full colour.

RFID blocking credit card holder wallets

RFID blocking credit card wallets are made from aluminium. this material blocks any RFID scanners from accessing your card details.  We are stocking them in Silver and Black.

A simple flick of the button on the bottom pops the cards up for easy access.

Minimalistic, futuristic and super compact.

Card Holders silver aluminium
Metal credit card wallet black

RFID blocking sleeves – On import only

RFID blocking sleeves work differently to RFID blocking cards.  They make use of a metalised material that blocks any form of radio waves that could read the RFID chip.  This material also blocks NFC reading.

Scan guard RFID blocking sleeves
RFID scan blocking sleeves 3 up branded
RFID blocking sleeve black

RFID blocking wallets – On import only

RFID blocking wallets with special linings are becoming increasingly popular across Europe, USA and Japan.  RFID blocking wallets come in two types, patent leather or real leather.

The RFID blocking action is by use of the Faraday cage principle.   There is a metalised lining which prevents RFID or NFC scanning of the contents.

Leather wallet with RFID blocking
RFID blocking wallet leather

RFID blocking key pouch – On import only

We also supply RFID blocking pouches.  These are ideal as you can store your car key fob in it to block RFID reading of the fob.   You can store cards and other items that are vulnerable to RFID scanning in it along with the keys.

RFID blocking pouch for car keys
RFID blocking pouch for car keys closed

Many South Africans are alarmed by the possibility of hidden readers picking up their card details and using them to commit fraud

We have read many articles asking whether South Africans be purchasing special “RFID blocking” wallets and purses to stop criminals stealing their bank card details via RFID and NFC skimming or scanning.  Many of these articles report that they are not necessary and then go on to quote the credit card companies.

If you’ve watched the videos doing the rounds‚ showing a scenario of a man stealing people’s credit card details by getting close to them in a shopping centre‚ and then going on an online spending spree with them‚ you will realise that an RFID blocking wallet or card in the wallet is fast becoming essential.

South African banks have been issuing RFID (Radio Frequency ID) credit and debit cards since Around 2009, you can identify these cards by a Wi-Fi-type symbol on them.

The RFID technology enables you to pay by simply placing your card near a Tap and Go card machine.  This is more commonly used when small cash amounts are used instead of having to insert the card into the point-of-sale (POS) machine.  Large amounts will always require you to type in your PIN.  Tap and Go transactions are the norm in Australia‚ New Zealand‚ the UK and the EU.  In the USA they are gaining popularity very fast.

So who says that this type of fraud is not happening?

One of the first articles written on the subject was Roger Grimes of San Francisco-based technology digital publication InfoWorld.   His article is most often requited by many other publications in which he states;

“They (the RFID-blocking wallet makers) have yet to produce evidence of a single real-world RFID crime,” Grimes said. “Year after year‚ nothing…”

This article dates back many years.  For every article saying there is no contactless card fraud there are as many articles saying there are.  One article even states that says contactless card fraud is about to exceed cheque fraud. This article dates back to February 2018.  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/24/contactless-card-fraud-overtakes-cheque-scams-first-time/

SABRIC, The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) is a Non-Profit Company formed by the four major Banks to assist the Banking and Cash in transit industries combat organised bank-related crimes.  They state:

“Stealing money by tapping an NFC-enabled POS device near enough to a bank client’s card is not likely,” SABRIC said in a statement.  

Did you notice the words “NOT LIKELY”?

What do the banks and card companies say

Mastercard has reported that most contactless-card fraud cases reported around the world involved a thief stealing or finding a physical card and using it at the point of sale.

“Contactless technology was developed by Mastercard with the mindset of never sacrificing security for convenience‚” the company said.

Why would the banks say contactless cards cannot be defrauded? Nobody would admit to producing a system that can be defrauded.  Undeniably the process to defraud people using this system is complex and difficult to achieve.   The same was said of magnetic strips on bank cards just a few years ago.

Is contactless-card technology safe?

One only needs to see the amount of RFID blocking products in the marketplace to know that contactless transactions are certainly not safe.  Why would so many companies be producing these products incurring millions in development costs if there is no need?

In the UK the RFID and NFC blocking products are standard in the retail environment. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/24/anti-fraud-wallets-now-standard-uk-department-stores-amid/

Cloning

Cloning a contactless card is very simple.  Browse forums such as Reddit and MyBroadband and you will notice countless articles where users explain how to clone Gautrain cards and SA gym cards.

Gecko Media is a leading supplier of RFID blocking cards and wallets.

Protect your credit cards from “tap-and-go” scanning by criminals

Fears over contactless card fraud were ignited in South Africa in 2018 when a video showing a man tapping someone’s back pocket with a credit card terminal was widely shared.

The video doesn’t explain that it may not be easy for a thief to get their hands on a point-of-sale terminal that supports near field communications (NFC).

To get a card payment point-of-sale device, you typically need to deal with a financial institution as a registered business.

A percentage of your sales go to whoever provides the card machine, which means such fraudulent transactions may be traced through the point-of-sale provider.

Other contactless card fraud

It is undisputed that should you lose your cards or a thief steals your card he or she would be able to use it for small transactions before you can report the card to your bank and stop it.  Be sure to report lost or stolen cards as fast as possible to prevent this.

When asked about this, Banks in South Africa stated that they have implemented additional security measures on the NFC-enabled cards whereby the cards randomly request your card PIN.

How to Block RFID signals

You can buy a specially-made wallet lined with a material that blocks radio-frequency identification (RFID) signals from picking up the payment card you store in it.

A much cheaper option, however, is to do it yourself with aluminium foil (tin foil).

Lining your wallet with tinfoil effectively blocks readers from picking up any cards stored inside them.

Confuse the reader

RFID blocking cards use this method to block scanners from reading your card by confusing the reader.   The RFID blocking card returns a strong scrambled signal which confuses readers.

Storing two RFID cards together could have a similar effect.  For example, you can store your  Gautrain card on top of your credit card.  This would produce a signal that could confuse card scanners but it’s not foolproof.

Your best bet is Anti-fraud vigilance

Simple common sense should always prevail when securing your bank cards. Here are some tips: In addition to these safety measures, the usual anti-fraud tips apply.

  1. Always keep your card near you, do not let any person walk off with your card to swipe it.  Make them bring the card machine to you.
  2. Do not store your PIN with your card or be crazy enough to write your PIN on the card.
  3. Remember to pay attention to ATM’s for skimming devices attached to the machine.
  4. Beware of people trying to assist you at an ATM. Card swapping is a very common practice.
  5. Check your credit card and bank statements every monthly, be sure to monitor for fraudulent transactions they occur frequently.
  6. Register for SMS notifications from your bank.
  7. Visa offers an OTP pin service for online transactions, register for this service.