The Eclectic Quill

Website of Joshua McGee

Response to credit card RFID tag reads

Yep, RFID reads like these are very real.  I did research involving RFID tags for several years.

Thing is, RFID chips were a really dumb thing to put into credit cards in the first place, and I and many others have been saying this for years.  They are designed expressly to make things easy to read.  The original intended applications were for things like packaging plant output, UPS and mail sorting, etc. -- put a little chip in there and run it through what looks like a metal detector cage, and you can read everything you've stored on it (order number, sender, recipient, options, whatever.)  It's great for inventory and routing.

Then people stated talking about it for commercial shopping.  Put a tag on a bottle of wine, then push your cart/trolley through the checkout line, have it tot up everything, and then you swipe your card to pay for your groceries.  No more of that silliness in the "Self Service" checkout aisle.

I saw the prices for these chips drop from a dollar, to fifty cents, to a dime while I was working on it.  In sufficient (huge) bulk, they're now a nickel.  We were opining that dropping it to penny would mean one could put it on anything -- a can of beans, a greeting card, a bag of M&Ms -- whatever they like.

And then they put it on a credit card?!  People will now steal credit card info, and the tech-fearing now associate RFID with "security risk".  Gah.

Also: this is why one of always-hip Hammacher-Schlemmer's heavily pushed products for the holidays is a wallet woven from steel fibers: thinner than paper, softer than silk, and stronger than Tyvek or leather -- and it blocks RFID tag reads:

It'll set you back ninety bucks, but you can shop from home with your credit card -- so much safer than doing using it in a store -- and now safer than carrying a credit card into a store.  :-)

Similar ones are available more cheaply at Amazon.  :-)

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