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!
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
The 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.
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.
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.