Rogue RFID-blocking Front Wallet

Two Gear Guys is excited about partnering with Brian’s Backpacking Blog as guest contributors. This is one of several upcoming reviews for products that Brian let us check out and give our opinion on. Why, we’re so pumped up about this opportunity, we had to drink a case of Red Bull just to calm down!

Rogue RFID Blocking Wallet

Identity Theft

Here’s a sad, pitiful bit of trivia about me: I’ve had my personal ID stolen FIVE times. You heard me. Five times. It wasn’t because I let a hobo borrow my Mastercard to help pay for his dog’s kidney transplant, mind you. I just happened to cross paths with some mighty clever criminals. Five times. So, you’ll excuse me if I’m a little over protective of my credit card. And debit card. And driver’s license.

Now, not all credit cards and driver’s licenses have RFID chips implanted within them, I should tell you. However, not all credit card companies make it known that your card has a chip inside it, so it very well may be impossible to know if your card has a chip inside unless you do a lot of researching, and even then, you may not get an answer. ‘Fast pass’ type cards are particularly vulnerable.

So when Brian sent me this Rogue RFID-blocking Front Wallet from Maine-based Rogue Industries, I was particularly interested in it. Nothing ticks me off more than electronic theft. (Especially when I’m on the business end of it.) Rogue boasts that it’s ‘WalletGuard RFID Blocking Technology’ will keep criminals from stealing the info off of your credit cards with RFID scanners, but we’ll cover that in a bit.

Front Pocket Carry

When I first examined the bi-fold leather wallet, I instantly fell in love with the smell of the genuine leather. Maybe this sounds silly, but smelling it reminded me of being on vacation in the Smoky Mountains and walking into one of the many leather craft shops in downtown Gatlinburg. The Front Wallet is wedge-shaped, so it can fit comfortably in your front pocket. This makes it a bit harder for pick-pockets to get to. (Unless they’re REALLY good. ) Also, it’s pretty thin at 1/4 thick”. Much thinner, by far, than the ‘George Costanza caliber’ tri-fold wallet I normally carry. (You know, the one so thick, it requires a chiropractor visit every month because it makes your spine look as crooked as a question mark.)

Built-In RFID Protection

Rogue RFID Blocking WalletThe Rogue RFID Front Wallet is 5″ long and 3 3/8″ wide and weighs a comfortable 1.4 oz. One side has an ID sleeve with a clear window for your driver’s license. The other side has three card sleeves, each layered with RFID protection. Inside the sleeves, there are extremely thin sheets of metal, sandwiched between ultra thin layers of paper. These are thin enough that they don’t add bulk to your wallet, but still effectively block an RFID reader from scanning your card. However, it’s recommended that you limit the number of cards you place in each sleeve to one. ( Wait? So I can carry only three credit cards in this wallet? I’m an American! The Constitution requires me to carry at least 8 or more. Preferably maxed out, if possible. Trust me, it’s in there… somewhere near the bottom.)

The RFID Scam

Alright, so WHY do you need an RFID wallet? Let’s chat. RFID cards can be read from up to 30 feet away with an RFID reader. 30 feet? What kind of voodoo is at work here? Here’s how:

It’s Friday night. You’re standing around outside the Cheesecake Factory with some friends, wondering if the hostess was joking when she said to expect a 2 hour wait, or if that was what she told you because she didn’t like your face. As you are lost in thought, playing the Candy Crush on your smartphone, you don’t notice the person standing a few feet behind you, carrying a backpack. They hang around for only about 30 seconds, then quickly depart.

RFID-scam copy

What they’ve done is use an RFID scanner to read the information being broadcast from the tiny radio station built into a microchip inside the cards in your wallet. Once they have this information on the card reader, they upload the data onto their laptop. Now, they use that data to make counterfeit cards with your personal information, which they’ll use for their own personal shopping spree at Spencer’s, buying bongs, barely legal swimsuit posters and Big Johnson shirts. And it’s all on your dime, pal.

Having a wallet that protects the information stored on your bank cards may not keep you from being the victim of all crime, but it’s a pretty effective way to keep some punk from wreaking havoc on your personal finances. Note: The protective metal lined sleeves are designed to protect cards that are being read within the standard 13.56 megahertz range.

Rogue-001

Just like anything, the RFID protection won’t last forever. Rogue says that under normal use, you should be protected for about 3 years. But, even after the RFID protection is gone, you’ll still have a very nicely made wallet.

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  • insurance guy

    Wouldn’t it be simpler just to carry a piece of aluminum foil in the outside-most bill sleeve of my existing wallet? We that block the evil scanners? I am thinking that might be the cheaper way to go.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      I hear you and if you want cheap and simple you could stuff your cards in a empty bag of Doritos and get the same result :) This isn’t only about cost or simplicity, the Rogue wallet is an exquisitely made, hand-crafted piece of leather craftsmanship that just happens to also address the issue of RFID which most wallets do not. Sure there are cheaper ways to accomplish the same result, but that’s true of many things.

      While I have your attention, just out of curiosity what type of wallet are you currently using and how many credit cards to you typically carry? If you don’t mind sharing.

      • insurance guy

        For the past year I have been using a Duluth Trading Post wallet. Very tough. I have been very happy with it.
        I usually carry only one credit card and two debit cards, but I also have eleven other credit card-sized pieces of plastic in my wallet (a building ID pass, transit pass, a hospital ID card, two store cards with four key-chain-type store cards taped to them, two insurance cards, two library cards, a drivers license and a license to practice law). I don’t carry most of those cards while hiking, in fact I usually do not carry a wallet, but I often carry a WMNF Guide card.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      On a related note, I’m thinking of hacking my current Butterfly Wallet to insert a small layer of Mylar film (aka emergency heat blanket) to create an RFID blocking layer. Might be a fun project :)