When most people think of a credit card protector, they think it’s the preserve of geeks. They don’t know what it is or why it matters, but it’s definitely nerdy and something they can forget about. In high school it was the kids who used those huge accordion folders, and as an adult it’s the credit card protectors. However, many people actually find themselves desperate to buy a credit card protector after they’ve faller victim of fraud or identity theft. As with anything considered “nerdy”, there comes a time when many people realise it really wasn’t so nerdy after all.
Believe it or not, it is actually very easy to find yourself victim of credit card fraud, even without losing your wallet. Identity theft is a bit more difficult and not quite as common, but nonetheless it is important to protect your credit card at all times. Many think that credit card sleeves are just a simple, old fashioned place to put your credit card so it doesn’t fall out, but they are actually much more complicated and sophisticated.
What is a Credit Card Protector Anyway?
The terms “credit card protector” and “credit card sleeve” are interchangeable, and sometimes they simply mean a little holder to keep your credit card. However, they generally serve a much bigger purpose. These protectors actually work to prevent your card from being scanned while it is inside your wallet by using a material that cannot be penetrated by the scans.
Most people do not even realise that criminals have the ability to steal your credit card information without the actual physical card. The way it works is this: Your card already has information inside the magnetic strip that allows it to be scanned by all of the machines in stores. This strip also has all of your information such as your name and the expiration date of your card. Criminals have been able to reverse engineer how data is stored on the actual card and create a new technology that can steal this information right from inside your wallet. They typically do this while on their computers. Would you ever be suspicious of someone on his/her laptop in the local coffee shop? Probably not, which is why this tactic works so well. This practice is often called electronic pickpocketing. In situations like this, even taking all the steps you normally would to secure your credit card simply won’t cut it.
The scary part about this type of credit card theft is the idea that you won’t even know it is happening. You might know exactly where your credit card is at all times, and you may not have even used it that day or taken it out of your wallet, but it is still susceptible to theft—unless of course you have a credit card sleeve protecting your card.
What is RFID Technology?
Many banks are now issuing what is known as a “smart credit card” because it has RFID technology, or Radio Frequency Identification. This is a technology that puts a chip inside your card as opposed to the magnetic strip. All the consumer has to do is simply wave the card in front of a scanner to make a purchase. It is much easier for a consumer, but it also makes it easier for a criminal to access your credit card information.
RFID protection was created around the 1950s, so it is not a new technology. If you have one of these credit cards or are prompted to sign up for an RFID card, don’t get nervous. You can protect your card by simply placing it in a secure sleeve or secure wallet. The idea is that you are safer with these types of cards because your card is never in the hands of a stranger. However, if you do not use a credit card sleeve, you are much less protected than anyone else walking the streets.
How to Find the Right Credit Card Protector
If you’re convinced that you need some sort of pocket protector, you have a lot of options. Pocket protectors typically don’t cost more than $10, and even RFID wallets usually don’t cost more than $20. I use a Tyvek credit card protector, but you can find others on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere online where you can compare your options.