Friday, July 08, 2011

What’s In YOUR Wallet!?

What's the issue? Electronic Pickpocketing is the theft of your personal information through scanners that read credit cards, IDs, and more through clothing, wallets and purses as quickly as it takes a thief to walk past you.

Who's at risk? You and anyone with credit/debit cards, ID and passports with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, which contain personal account information and sensitive data.

The other day, while sewing at Karen’s with Lisa – Karen told us how her hubby’s credit card had been hijacked by someone likely with a card reader in the airport, or on the plane itself. All Jim had done was purchase a set of headphones for watching the movie on the plane…

And within a few days Karen got a call that there had been suspicious activity! One of the charges? A subscription go MATCH.COM! Karen’s comment to Jim? “Honey, is there something we need to discuss??” Of course, the charge was fraudulent as were many on her statement. They were able to get it all straightened out, but at the same time it leaves a huge feeling of anger and voilation of personal information.

How does this happen? There is technology out there where someone can even scan your wallet from your back pocket…..

THIS freaks me out….I travel all the time and I hate feeling vulnerable. It seems to be more dangerous to travel with credit cards than it does cash these days! Yet, we need a credit card for so many things!

((Heck, I’m going to the SISTER’S QUILT SHOW! Do you think I’m NOT going to take my credit card?!?))

In talking with the customer service people for her credit card on the phone, Karen was told that they are now making wallets and purses with an “unreadable” lining in them. But that means we all have to buy new wallets to combat card readers?

Then the customer service guy told her that the easiest way to protect yourself is just to put your card in foil inside your wallet. Great. Now all of our wallet contents are going to look like giant sticks of gum!

But I had an idea….

If foil worked, it was WORTH a try, and it would be very cheap……

I took two hotel room keys that were left in my purse from my trip to Virginia last week, and I covered them both with foil..

wallet 003

You could use ANYTHING..even those fake credit cards that show up in the mail that say “your name here”. I just wrapped them as if I were doing baked potatoes. Easy Peasy.

This is my traveling wallet – Here is the other safety tip. DO NOT travel with more than you need. You won’t need your Sears card, your Pennys card, your Nordstrom card, etc – KEEP IT SIMPLE! Do you really need your Sam’s club card, your library card, your quilt guild card with you on vacation? Probably not. If anything happens…it’s easier to report 3 cards lost than 18 all-a-sundry!

I know I need my drivers license, that’s my ID for getting through the airport. It’s in the front pocket where I can get at it easily.

wallet 004

I stuck the foil wrapped key cards in either side of the little wallet in the side pockets. Will this work? I feel like the little kid from the 60’s trying to make the TV work by putting foil on the antennas!!

wallet 002

Besides my drivers license, I’m only taking 3 other cards with me – These I need for my trip. And I’ve got the numbers on a separate piece of paper, along with the emergency contact number in case anything happens. It’s as easy as putting them on the copier part of your scanner/printer and copying one side, and then turning the cards over and copying the other side. Leave it where someone can get to it at home easily should something happen.

wallet 005

3 little cards, and the two foil ones to keep it all pirate-free. I hope to be good to go until I can find a wallet that I like with built in security. There is plenty of room in here for some cash too. I travel with as little bulk as possible.

I don’t take a purse on the plane ever EITHER! Anything I need goes in my laptop bag, and I’ve skinnied that down to carrying as little as possible. My empty purse goes into my checked luggage….anyone checking inside my suitcase won’t find anything of value in there, but then I have it when I get to my destination if I decide I need to carry a purse.

Can you imagine the hey-day scanning thieves could have at the Sister’s Quilt Show? Not that I think any will be there, but…think about it? Traveling quilters with a need to spend….how many could be scammed?

It’s my intent to FOIL them. Literally!


  1. Great idea! I had not heard of this before. Will the foil do anything when you go through security?

  2. YIKES!

    Hey, I wonder if it would work to make a little wallet like that and put foil between the layers. Hmmm...

    Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Bonnie , do you realize you have just put your name address, DOB , signature and other personal details on the internet for ANYONE to take advantage of, your drivers licence blows up to much larger than life with just a click... just saying

  4. What a GREAT idea! I think I'm going to do that. And while I'm at it, I think I'll make a foil hat so the aliens can't scan my brain. There's nothing in there anyway, but you can never be too careful!!! LOL Can you imagine what our grandparents would think if we told them what we were doing! They'd never understand, would they?

  5. This is a great tip Bonnie. Thanks!

  6. We also have a separate card that we use for internet purchases. To date that is the only one we have had problems with unidentified purchases on...

  7. I like your idea a lot - just yesterday we saw the aluminum wallets for sale at WalMart for $10-11. Husband and I remarked we may look into that if and when we start traveling, but now I can use your idea. It is a scary world we live in. Judy C in NC just saying...

  8. What a great idea with the hotel keys! I have two wallets...one for everyday, and one for travel/quilt shows. Like you, the travel one is the skinny necessities. And I looked....it has slip pockets that I can put foil in. Sad isn't it that it has come to this?

  9. My address is also plainly visible on my website. My signature is in every book I sign for people. What I'd not visible is my license number. I feel safe with what I posted. It's not rocket science to get this info, it's in google!

  10. There are some hard sided wallets that they sell on TV for like 10.00 that are supposed to make your cards safe from RF scanners. They click open easily, and have nice little pockets inside to hold all of your cards for easy access. I put all of my cards in there, to keep them from getting scanned by people around here. You just never know. I told my son to put his in foil, and when he travels in the airport, to put his wallet in his front pocket. They have these RF scanners in a purse that just looks like any other traveler, and all they have to do is stand next to you, not even touch you.. they showed it on the news here. REDICULOUS.. GET A JOB!! Oh but that would be too hard!!

  11. Thanks for the great info. You might want to read this too:


    Have fun in Sisters!

  12. We all need to remember that security is important ALL the time and not just when we travel. I am going to try the foil wallet. Sounds like a good idea.

  13. They had this on the NEWS this week. You don't have to buy anything or even take your card out of your wallet. The person just stands beside you and your purse/wallet and the machine picks up the info. The machine looks like a phone..so the person pretends to be texting so he looks innocent enough. The news told us to put all cards into a protective sleeve that you can buy or make one out of aluminum foil...SO THANKS for sharing!! We got to get the word out there!

  14. Bonnie, woah. I really thank you for the tip! I got to Pacific International Quilt Show last fall and got a call from american express asking if I had made two purchases at Neiman Marcus in Texas. For over $10,000 ... I actually physically sick... Never had such a awful feeling! The reynolds wallet will save the day! I will see you at the park in Sisters on Saturday!! pam

  15. I really don't travel much, but have had to get a new credit card each of the past two years due to suspicious activity. I was told about this scanning stuff by my bank, but they didn't tell me what to do to thwart it. Thanks for the heads-up!

  16. Thanks for the info. I am sure that there will be something else to worry us after this. Love the foil idea. Must be something like a lead barrier or ?? Too much technology for me these days......rather be quilting! Have fun out there and be safe. Georgeann

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  18. you'll have some explaining to do at airport security.

  19. I had one of those RF Cards accidentally pay for another guys gasoline once. The reader at his register actually read MY card while I was scanning it at the next register. (They had the two scanners right next to each other.) Luckily the guy was honest, and we were able to fix it right there. I would not have known until I looked at my account for a few days and then I would have had to fight with the bank etc.

    That said, Duct Tape works well too to protect your stuff while it is in your wallet. Thieves use Duct Tape all the time to steal stuff. The Duct Tape shields the RF tags that set off those alarms at stores. They line their bags with duct tape, fill 'em up and walk through the front door.

    Travel Safely,

  20. Great idea. I'm going to do this for my family. Isn't it sad what we honest people have to do to keep the thieves at bay. So many people want something for nothing now days and simply refuse to work for what they want. A thief called it redistributing the wealth on the news the other day. Sick.

  21. okay okay okay! I took time out from sewing and blurred out my info on the picture and left it small so it can't be biggie sized.

    I've got my pepper spray with me for everywhere I go.....

    Anything else I should take care of before I can SEW?!?

  22. Wow, I like the idea of the duct tape - not to shoplift of course, but to cover one of those trash cards that come in the mail. I've been the victim of identity theft a few times, but the most annoying was 20 years ago when the phone company cut off my phone card while I was traveling. Someone had stolen the number probably at the airport when I placed a call on a pay phone - remember those? It was very distressing because I was traveling back and forth between Fla and Ohio while my sister was ill and fighting cancer. The phone people couldn't have been nicer, but that was 1 more stresser I didn't need. Stay safe in your travels Bonnie.

  23. When you get a passport card, it comes in a little sleeve lined with a foil type lining. There was a report on CSN or one of those major news channels a few years back where someone was sitting on the side of the freeway with one of those scanners, and peoples info was popping up from flying past doing 60mph. Passports, drivers license, credit cards, etc......really wacked out world we live in now. I have been trying to go back to the cash only world, it is getting there, slowly.

  24. Those types of cards come with a special folder and the instructions tell you to keep your card in there all the time. I live at the border and have a trusted traveler card that is scanable, along with the enhanced drivers licenses. The card only comes out when I'm at the booth to scan my info and it goes right back inside the sleeve. A good warning for travelers, thanks!

  25. I had no idea Bonnie, thanks for the heads up. I also appreciate the travel tips. I struggle with carrying too much, and will definitely use your tips.

  26. A friend is going to Europe this month and was working on making a wallet out of Insul Bright. We weren't positive it would work but I don't know why not. Not an easy way to test that kind of thing!

  27. Thanks for the tip Bonnie. Alas, I am not travelling to the Sisters Quilt show this year. Maybe next. Central Oregon is *home* to us. In fact, I've known Lori for a looooooong time. ;) Have a great time! Jo Anna

  28. Bonnie,
    One other "important" card never to leave home without is your medical insurance card. Thanks for the ID theft info.


  29. I didn't know they could steal your id just by walking besides you, thanks for sharing. Bet this will be an issue in Norway soon, too. Better be prepared! We just have to act like paranoid people to avoid these darn thiefs in the end... sad!
    Hope you got a LOT of sewing done, Bonnie ;o)
    Have a great weekend,
    Hugs from Norway

  30. Very sad how we have to worry about our credit cards, while "inside" our wallet. Quite funny about the foil. Reminds me of those that made foil hats for fear of some technology that would read their mind.

    We had one of our cards scammed, but believe it was giving our number over the phone to an airline person for the extra luggage fee. Fortunately it was American Express and we received a call from them within 24 hours, for questionable charges, so we were able to cancel the card quickly. As yours also happened around an airline trip, I'm now wondering if more have had such an experience. X?!?!!


  31. Thanks for the heads up. I, too, go off on my own a lot and have been concerned about this. I will be getting my foil out tomorrow morning.

  32. Bonnie,

    John and I are going on Vacation this coming Weds. Thank you for the advice. I wonder if Insul-Bright would work? I have a great pattern for a wrist strap wallet. Hmmmmm! You know when I'm focused I can sew up a storm.
    Jeanne in CT

  33. GREAT info Bonnie! It may save a LOT of us from headaches down the road!

    Hmmm...I used to laugh about the duct-tape-wallet craze, but now I may make one myself! It would be nice to know if Jeanne's Insul-Bright idea would work, too...

  34. What a good idea to foil the baddies!I have recently invested in a pre-pay debit card for when I travel and then I don't need any other cards with me.

  35. OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE!!! Would you believe I just got a call from my Visa account and it's been lifted too!!! Not pointing fingers, but I used it at the Clemmons Dollar Tree yesterday and today I get the call. Haven't used it anywhere else lately...

    I'm just going to start using cash. This is a pain in the patoot. Both cards in one week!! >:(

    I'm just glad our CC companies are on their toes!

  36. I would like to thank whoever posted the link to the snopes.com/fraud/identity.asp as it was a very informative link which downplayed the risk. Although the risk exists and the aluminum foil probably helps it; it sounds like the newer cards are safer and most info they get is not enough. Unfortunately there are obviously a number of other means for identity theft so we all have to be vigilant. To get this back on quilting I am so looking forward to posts from Oregon. I attended the sister's show 4 years ago and would love to go back someday. Thanks for sharing Bonnie.


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