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Friday, February 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: What is the difference betgween RFID and EMV credit cards?

Kirstin Davis,BBB

Many of us have heard the term RFID. Do you know what it means and how it affects your personal identification? Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to track and identify nearby objects. For example, have you ever paid for an item at a retailer by simply waving your credit card over a credit card terminal? The answer is probably no. However, you may have stayed in a hotel where you just hold the key card up to the door handle and it unlocks the door. This is RFID technology.

With the introduction of the Europay, Master Card, Visa (EMV) chip technology there has been confusion in the marketplace regarding financial and personal identity security. Many consumers have the impression that EMV and RFID are the same.They are not.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about RFID and EMV technology:

    RFID and EMV are not the same. The RFID is a type of radio frequency technology, while EMV refers to card construction and identification. The RFID cards do not require contact for the transaction to occur and EMV or “chip and pin” cards must be inserted into a terminal for the transaction to take place.

    An RFID sleeve or wallet will not protect your EMV or magnetic strip cards. You may have seen infomercials claiming an RFID wallet will protect you from people being able to access your debit or credit card from a distance. This is only accurate if in fact you do have an RFID card.

    “Electronic pickpocketing” is not attractive to thieves. The RFID technology sends a one-time code for each transaction and even if a thief obtains the signal, they can only make a single purchase. From their perspective, it is a lot of work with little payoff.

Anyone who feels they’ve been a victim of ID theft or a scam should report it to local law enforcement and BBB Scam Tracker.

For more consumer protection tips and information on BBB investigations, visit

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