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RFID Sleeve

I'd like to cut my sleeve in half and glue each side into my favorite passport folder. Will this keep my passport safe? I prefer to just "flash" my passport and not take it out of the sleeve...that's just one more opportunity for dropping or scanning from an unwanted source.

Posted by
28145 posts

Far better if you keep secure under your clothes in a money belt.

To save repeating 200 or so posts about the topic, have a search (at the top of the page, where the magnifying glass is) for the term RFID.

RFID shields are a solution looking for a problem - but they make money for the makers and sellers.

Posted by
21867 posts

Another devotee of the RFID fee scam. The protective sleeve is the scam and not the scanning of your passport. Plus the fact that the chip in your passport does not contain any information.

Posted by
8889 posts

What do you mean by "flash" your passport? Keep it safe from what? If you are trying to prove your ID, like when you register at an hotel or prove your age, you need to show the photo page, which means opening the passport and allowing the person time to read the page.
And, at borders you have to hand over your passport, they will scan it and if you are a non-EU citizen it will get stamped.
An RFID sleeve is about as useful as a wearing garlic to ward off vampires.

Posted by
31524 posts

rs,

The risk for having information stolen from your Passport is very minimal, so it's probably not necessary to cut & paste metal plates into your favourite Passport holder.

However, there is some risk that information can be surreptitiously taken from any credit or debit cards which are equipped with RFID chips (ie: PayPass or other "tap" cards). I have no idea how often this might occur but it IS technically possible.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qfwq22-3f0

Posted by
18388 posts

If it's so easy to read a chip card from just near, not touching the card, why do I seem to have so much trouble getting the grocery store reader to read the card when it is inserted in the reader? Why can't I just hold the card near the reader?

BTW, in that u-tube clip, they don't say how many people's cards they tried to read without success. They only made an example of one person. Was that the only person they tried it on, or did they try it on 100 people before they got one example? Inquiring minds want to know.

That card was scanned from behind the man. My cards are in a neck pouch on my chest. Do you think I might notice someone scanning my chest? Where do I get an RFID shirt?

Despite what the State Dept. says, I believe I once inserted my passport, closed, in a slot in the kiosk at the airport and it gave me my boarding pass.

Posted by
5593 posts

rsloyd, I see this is your very first post on this board .... anyway, have you travelled before? I ask, because many, many officials, including the TSA staff in the USA, and many immigration officials I've lined-up for in other countries demand/require/insist that they be handed the passport, alone, in their hand.

Perhaps this is like speed-trap cops in the USA, who want to prevent you from leaving a $100 bill on top of your drivers license when you hand over your wallet ... or worse ... like accusing them falsely.

All the other posts are good advice, anyway. Relax and enjoy your trip. But watch out for non-electronic pickpockets in crowded places.

Posted by
11462 posts

As Tim stated, many countries require you to take your passport out of its cover or sleeve. I even saw a sign eluding to this at either Heathrow or Dublin airports. I can't remember which one.

Posted by
31524 posts

Lee,

"If it's so easy to read a chip card from just near, not touching the card, why do I seem to have so much trouble getting the grocery store reader to read the card when it is inserted in the reader? Why can't I just hold the card near the reader?"

It's important to note that the Chip & Pin (or Signature) function of the card is separate from the RFID / Paypass / Tap function. If you're inserting the card into the POS terminal, it's being connected using electrical contacts inside the terminal. This is why it's important not to try and extract the card when it's being read, as that can damage either the POS machine and/or the card.

With RFID / Tap cards, I believe the merchant has to specify which payment method the customer is using when he enters the transaction. For example, if the customer presents a card for payment using C&P, it's necessary to tell the merchant whether it's a debit or credit card. I go through that routine every time I use my C&P card.

If the customer intends to use the RFID / Tap method, I believe that has to be specified as well. Electronic payments such as Apple Pay are entered on the POS terminal as a Tap transaction. One additional note regarding Apple Pay (and similar) systems is that it's more secure than RFID cards, as the card number and other customer details are not stored in the phone, and the phone can't be read surreptitiously by scammers.

To answer your question above, you can pay just by holding the card near a reader, but the merchant has to select that mode of payment first. It's possible that the POS terminal is faulty. I've had that happen on a few occasions. The merchant always insists that my card is at fault, and yet when we move to a different terminal it works fine - go figure!

"My cards are in a neck pouch on my chest. Do you think I might notice someone scanning my chest? Where do I get an RFID shirt?"

Depending on the frequency and technology used in your cards, a scammer might be able to read them by standing in front of you.....

"13.56 MHz – High Frequency (HF) & Near-Field Communication (NFC) – A medium wavelength with a typical read range of about 1 centimeter up to 1 meter. This frequency is used with data transmissions, access control applications, DVD kiosks, and passport security – applications that do not require a long read range."

In crowded location, a distance of one meter should provide a scammer with lots of opportunities. I have no idea how often this might happen, but it's technically possible.

Hopefully Douglas will spot this Thread, as I'm sure he will have some excellent comments to contribute.

Posted by
4535 posts

^^^ Here I am! It's been pretty well covered. The only thing I would add is that RFID chips are typically designed to be read from very close proximity. The RFID cards I have must be held within just a couple of centimeters of the scanner to register. So someone would need to put their scanner right up next to your ass or wherever to successfully scan your card. Technically possible, but highly unlikely.

Also, US passports have no information on their chip that is useful to a thief.

Posted by
31524 posts

Douglas,

Thanks for the feedback! It's possible that the card designers have used antenna design to reduce the range of the cards to a few centimetres. As RFID cards are a "passive" device, their only source of power is from the POS terminal. The transmit power level of the POS terminal could also be limited by design, which would also tend to reduce range.

As Apple Pay and similar systems are presumably an "active" (powered) system, I would assume they might have slightly greater range.

Posted by
4535 posts

The range has to be limited to avoid false transactions. If you walk near a terminal, it should not read your card. They are designed to have to place the card very close or "tap" on the terminal for it to read.

Posted by
13730 posts

Back to the "flash" comment....
European hotels sometimes request at check-in that you leave your passports with them for a short time for processing your information. They're usually ready to be retrieved by the time you've dropped the bags and have gotten settled so don't be concerned if you're asked to do that. In any case, it's going to leave your hands for a minute or two to a little longer.

No need at all for an RFID sleeve.

Posted by
31524 posts

Douglas,

Thanks! Having a limited range on the cards makes perfect sense, for the reason you mentioned.