Testing RFID blocking cards: Do they work? Do you need one?

Testing RFID blocking cards: Do they work? Do you need one?

Pinball Zero reads the Apple Pay NFC signal from my Apple Watch Ultra.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

RFID is everywhere, even embedded in your credit and debit cards, allowing information to be read in a “contactless” way.

Fears that cards could be read covertly have generated a massive industry of security devices designed to block or otherwise interfere with this contactless reading of cards.

You can find wallets, hand bagsAnd card protectors designed to prevent stealth reading of your cards.

But do these security devices work?

Well I have one pinball zeroand this amazing device can read NFC.

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So let’s try.

What I’m using to test here are Vulkit RFID Blocking Cardswhich are designed to protect credit cards, debit cards and ID cards using 13.56 MHz frequency RFID technology from unauthorized reading.

The blocking card is just like any other credit or debit card and doesn’t need to be topped up or anything. All you have to do is put it in your wallet or purse, and it’s supposed to block RFID reading.

A black card with a logo of a padlock in a shield and the words Your personal information

The Vulkit RFID Blocking Card is just like any other credit, debit or ID card.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

But does it work?

I first turned on the Pinball Zero and tested an unprotected debit card. It read the data (see image below).

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Note that although Pinball Zero can read NFC cards, it cannot decode the card’s encrypted security code, also known as CSC, CVV, CVC, CAV and a bunch of other three-letter abbreviations. .

Flipper Zero reading showing credit card type and currency

Pinball Zero can read unencrypted data on a debit card.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

OK, now let’s add the blocking card to the equation.

Play Pinball Zero Saying "Apply the card to Flipper's back"

The Vulkit RFID blocking card indeed blocks the RFID signal.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Yeah, it blocked the reader. Pinball couldn’t read anything there.

What if the blocking card is behind the target card, which means there is no physical barrier between the credit card and the reader?

Pinball Zero with blocked reading, above the credit card above the Vulkit card.

The Vulkit RFID blocking card works even if it is behind the target card.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Yeah, it even blocked that.

So, does Vulkit’s blocking map work?

Yes. It’s very effective.

Do you need it?

It depends.

THE Vulkit RFID blocking card definitely adds a layer of security between you and someone who wants to access your data. For example, I’ve seen hotel safes that can be locked and unlocked using credit or debit cards, and a Pinball Zero could be used to clone the card and unlock the safe.

So while I think the likelihood of someone reading your card and using it for bad things is low, these cards cost around $4 each, which means they’re cheap insurance and easy to use against such attacks.