What’s in your wallets, people? Could be many different things, none of anybody’s business. But presumably, there are things to identify yourself and things to pay for stuff. Something that belongs exclusively to you. You keep your wallet close to your body to guard it from other people who may have dishonest intentions. In spite of this, thieves manage to find their way to your most private possessions. They dig in your pocket with their dirty paws. They repossess your IDs and your stack of valuable green paper. Okay, we try not to carry paper money stacks anymore; a piece of plastic is way more compact. Thieves don’t mind. They are willing to take our plastic money. We report the stolen card and dispute the purchases, made by the bandit. We take actions as soon as we find that the card was physically separated from us. But what if it still occupies the designated slot in our wallet? How long will it take us to realize that someone else is assisting us with spending our funds? That someone is using the credit card that is still residing next to our body?

Modern pickpockets don’t even have to place their dirty paws in your pocket. They are not some decadent wicked crooks anymore. In the world ruled by high-tech, the profession of thief has developed into a complex occupation requiring advanced technological skills. They go after the know-how so they actually know, how to. For example, how to operate your credit card.
We know, there is a magnetic stripe on the card. We swipe the stripe, we usually sign and sometimes we show our ID. So we think we know how. But unless we are high-tech or fraud professionals, we may not know about recent changes. Barcodes and magnetic stripes are being replaced with RFID chips. That is ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ upgrade to our payment-making devices. With RFID you don’t need to swipe the stripe. Just wave your plastic in front of the scanner. Like, “Hello!” It is fun and it is fast. It takes 12 seconds versus 48 seconds of swiping transaction. It is supposed to reduce the line to the cash register. (Yeah, like the card reading is the longest part of check-out process). The problem is - the cashier may be not the only one with radio-waves-reading device. There may be an educated con artist armed with a smart piece of hardware. You don’t even need to wag your card to exude the waves. And the scanning distance could be extended up to several feet. And your pocket will not stop the radio waves. So when you are strolling in the park and see an intelligent looking guy with a laptop, chances are – he is a digital thief, harvesting your personal info at this very moment, groping in your wallet with his hairy wireless paws.

But what about your signature? Unfortunately, with RFID the signature is often not required, just whoosh and go. And what about your ID to prove the card ownership? Unfortunately, your ID may also be RFID enhanced and thus scanned from the inside of your wallet.

And so, this is the modern pickpockets’ know-how: remote access to your personal and financial information and cloning your documents. Yes, they create a deceitful replica of your stuff, securely kept in your wallet. Are they real geniuses? Usually genius enough to operate the Internet. There are many sites dedicated to nothing but teaching people how to perform this criminal act, as well as supplying the necessary equipment and software. Identity theft made easy.

But don’t be too alarmed. The smart dudes who invented RFID also figured out its protection. Two substances can block RFID signals: metal and water. Metal is probably the more sensible choice. So it is used in a variety of RFID-shielding wallets. With a petite investment in such wallet you can feel protected. Just keep it close to your body.
Unfortunately identity theft goes way beyond your wallet. Employers, banks, credit card processors, the keepers and sellers of our secret stuff, (not even mentioning the Internet cookies) – are responsible for privacy glitches and disclosure of our personal information. Most of the guilty establishments, which have accidentally misplaced your delicate data, feel guilty enough to apologize and even give the violated individuals free subscriptions to an identity guard service. That is nice, thank you. But you are still uncomfortable knowing that your identity is up for grabs and some bad guys may get hold of your good name.

Honestly, it is not so much about your name. Identity thieves don’t really want to be you. They just want your money. And from this point of view, how many of us are on the market for decent identity theft victims? The modern cyberthieves should be highly disappointed with a serious decline in the number of identities worth stealing. Their job became more complicated, less rewarding and extremely time-consuming. A huge hacking effort may end up in collecting a garbage dump of unpaid college loans and overdue Blockbuster bills. The identity stealing industry is experiencing a massive economic downfall.

Are you paranoid about the identity theft? Think twice, maybe you are flattering yourself, thinking you have an identity that’s worth the thief’s time. It is a possibility that he will try to return it to you. And you possibly will not want to get your stinkin’ identity back. “No, thanks, you can have it. I hope you make out better with it than I did." And, by the way, if somebody steals my identity, can I get a new one?

Sure, we are not talking about our distinct personality. Most of us would never give it out. But if an educated identity-stealer wants to deal with my debts, late charges and exceeded credit card limits – be my guest. Take it all. Except for my last fifteen dollars in cash. This I will keep in my bullet-proof wallet.