Tuesday Tip: Don’t Let Your Credit Cards Go Rogue

Black RFID blocking sleeve for secure credit card from fraud.I recently learned an important security lesson that I want to share so you can avoid learning it the hard way.

I have had my debit card hacked in the past as most of us probably have. Sadly, it has become the norm at this point. However, I was not prepared to suffer a series of hacking events within the span of a week. First, my company credit card was hacked, followed by my personal debit card a few days later, and then my personal credit card a few days after that. They even tried to get a loan in my mother’s name. Needless to say, I felt completely violated and scared.

My credit cards are always in my wallet, so I had no idea how this fraud might have happened. A coworker told me he thinks I am a victim of credit card scanning. Although banks claim that credit card RFID chips are encrypted to protect our information, it has been proven that scanners—either homemade or easily bought—can swipe the cardholder’s name and number. (A cell-phone-sized RFID reader powered at 30 decibels per milliwatt (dBm) can pick up card information from 10 feet away.)

The other popular way to get this type of access to card information is called credit card skimming. Skimming occurs at point of sale (POS) systems where debit and credit cards are used to make transactions, such as ATMs, gas pumps and cash registers. More often than not, skimming occurs during legitimate transactions. Yes, this has happened to me as well.

Trust me, you don’t want to go through this, so here are some ways to protect yourself from scanning and skimming:

Preventing Credit Card Skimming

Skimming as a scam has endured because it’s very often successful. Try these tips for foiling card skimmers:

  • Don’t use free-standing POS terminals in badly lit or deserted areas. These are the most likely targets for skimmer action.
  • Deal directly with a teller or cashier when exchanging money. ATMs and other kiosks may be convenient, but you reduce your likelihood of being skimmed by avoiding them where possible.
  • Be on the lookout for damaged card readers. Any evidence of tampering suggests a fraudster may be at work.

Preventing Credit Card Scanning

Whereas avoiding skimming attacks requires increased vigilance during transactions, bolstering your defenses against scanning attacks can be achieved with some gadgetry and strategy.

  • Buy a card sleeve or RFID wallet that blocks RFID transmissions
  • Stack your cards together to mitigate some of the scanner’s ability to read information
  • Leave your cards at home and only use cash in public places

I learned a lot this week, including that credit card scanning exists. I also changed many passwords, added extra layers of security, put a freeze on all my credit files and purchased RFID blocking cards, which I had never heard of either.

Don’t let your credit cards go for a shopping spree without you!

Kristen Evangelista Headshot

Kristen Evangelista: In her role as Client Manager II with Network 1, Kristen is the liaison and main point of contact for clients in both the medical and financial professions. She is skilled at listening to her clients’ needs and acting as a liaison between them and the field engineers and support team.

Network 1 designs, builds and supports the IT you need to run your business more securely, productively and successfully. Whether you want to outsource all of your IT needs to a reliable, responsive, service-oriented company, or need to supplement the work of your internal IT staff, we will carefully evaluate where you are now, discuss where you want to go and implement and support a plan to get you there with as little interruption as possible.


  1. Shelly Browne on August 8, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    So does it help at all if I used a credit vs. a debit card? Should we tap vs slip in the card?

    • Kristen Evangelista on August 8, 2023 at 3:09 pm

      Credit card is always better, but in my instance and how it happened, both my credit cards and debit cards were hacked.

      They say tap is always better or if you slip it, just always bypass your PIN.

  2. Shelly Browne on August 8, 2023 at 12:30 pm

    Such an important thing to know

    • Kristen Evangelista on August 8, 2023 at 3:10 pm

      Glad it was helpful 🙂

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