Sunday, August 2, 2015

Armed with Armor

Julia Roberts + credit card = Pretty Woman

There is nothing more annoying (or frightening) than having your credit card declined at checkout. Often it's something simple: You went on vacation and forgot to notify them you would be 1500 miles from home. Or, as happened to me one very successful afternoon, you've been shopping a lot, and the bank wanted to hear you give the okay. In both cases your bank is looking out for you, and for that you really should be thankful. On the other hand, no one wants to receive that call, "We've cancelled your credit card due to suspicious activity"— particularly if you are on vacation and only brought the one card.

I did have a wallet stolen once out of my backpack while traveling. That was my fault for not knowing about the side zipper. It was recently brought to my attention there is another kind of nasty, hi tech thievery going on. You know those handy pay-as-you-go scanners often used in restaurants to take care of your bill right at the table? We have one in the Lovely Boutique Where I Work to assist customers waiting to check out on busy days.

They are the wave of the future (pun intended). They may also be the next opportunity to rob you blind. Counterfeit scanners can be used without your knowledge to scan the embedded information on all your fancy credit cards, driver's license and any US passport issued after 2006. It can happen from across a room. You won't even know.

Safari chic "armor" from

Now that I know, it would seem idiotic to walk around like a sitting duck target for these bad guys. You can have protection in the form of a specially lined wallet (great for guys but not very feminine) or individual sleeves for your cards, coated to detour RFID Radio Frequency Identification waves. I've ordered a set— $9.95 for four— but in the meantime, guess what works?

Yes, the lowly Altoid tin has proven a very good deterrent to RFID theft, thus protecting your identity after having refreshed your breath. I modified that tip as the corners of the cards tend to get caught in the tin. Just tape a length of ribbon to the bottom to give them a little lift when you open.

I feel safer already.


  1. Great tip ~~ as I head for NYC in a few days!!

  2. Forewarned in this case is for-armored. Have a wonderful trip!

  3. Woah!!! Last Thursday I set out on a marathon trip--from Texas--two days in NYC, then flying to Los Angeles for two days, then back to Texas. After I checkin into my NYC hotel, they called to say my American Express had been declined. Identity theft. AE cancelled my card. I had $42 dollars and no other credit card. Thanks for the tip! (PS: Thanks for contacting me via Google Circle. Brenda Coffee, 1010ParkPlace)

    1. I was beginning to think this form of identity theft was an urban legend, but I'm beginning to think it was not. Altoids should see an increase in sales.