How To De-RFID Your Credit Card

If your credit or debit cards say PayPass or Blink on them your financial information can be swiped by someone with an RFID reader. Learn how to destroy that functionality to keep your private info private.

RFID, WTF?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification but who really gives a crap. All you need to know is that it's the reason you shouldn't steal CDs or DVDs. Without the sensors I would be more inclined to... uh, nevermind.

Since swiping credit cards through a terminal is so '90's, the credit card companies devised a way to make it 'easier' for people to augment their debt. When you use a credit card with RFID, instead of swiping your card you just hold it up to the machine and after a second it grabs your card number and expiration date through the air and processes the transaction without a signature.

Doesn't sound so scary, does it? But remember, these companies are not concerned with your security as much as you would hope. If this were the case, we'd be using PIN(-only)-based credit cards where some jackass can't use your lost card to fill up his SUV with $80 in gas. Instead, we still use signatures which are as obsolete of a security measure as putting a spare key under your doormat. (I will admit that I have used it a few times and while it is kind of cool, the more accurate way to describe it is gimicky and unnecessarily unsecure.) It even works just by waving my wallet without removing the card. As easy as it is for the machine to pull your information off the card without any physical contact, someone with some smarts and low morals can just as easily brush past your wallet and do the same without you ever realizing it. Since RFID is the next big thing for payment methods, its only going to become more of a problem as more people learn how to hack it.

What's in Your Wallet?

Despite all the money put into marketing these new breed of credit cards, they sure keep mum about whether your card actually has an RFID chip inside. I recently traded my Sony Card that I signed up for because of the free $100 credit for the Chase Freedom (Cash) card because of the cashback. The website description as well as the documentation I received with the card makes no mention of any contactless technology. I would have been none the wiser if it wasn't for a suggestive logo that made me do some googling only to find out that it does have a chip in it.

Chip On Your Shoulder In Your Pants

If you are unsure whether your credit card(s) have an RFID chip in them, do a Google search with the name of the card and "rfid." Now that you are sure that your card is not just plastic, the next step is finding where the chip actually is so you can destroy it. If you hold it up to the light and look at the glare, you should see an indentation somewhere, possibly underneath or near a logo indicating some sort of speedy checkout technology.

On my card, I found it to be located under the broadcasting logo on the back of the card rather than under the chip design on the front. Although it is faint in the picture, its actually much easier to see with your own eyes than to capture on camera.

Safe At Last

Once you know where the chip is, you simply drill a hole in it with something like a Dremel or drill. It's as simple as that!

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