“Pay with cash only!” “Divide your money into several bags/stashes!”
I’m sure you’ve heard and read loads of travel tips how to prevent being robbed / pickpocketed while travelling. While all those tips are indeed very handy, we should all bear in mind that as technology improves, so does the various methods of theft.
In the last few years, paying with card has never been more convenient. Open your wallet and take a look at your cards. I’m 100% sure at least one of your cards would have the “PayWave” or “PayPass” sign:
In Australia, Paypass makes paying for purchases less than $100.00 really convenient. The cardholder can just merely swipe or tap her card in the machine and go. That easy. Unfortunately, it’s also THAT easy for electronic theives to swipe your details off you.
These days, pickpocketing does not necessarily mean someone literally sneaking up on your bag and stealing your physical wallet , card or money from you. They don’t even have to touch you to steal important details from you.
Just watch this:
Scary right? Unlike physical pickpocketing, you wouldn’t even know you’d been robbed until it’s too late. (When the crooks have already gone on a shopping spree using your account). This definitely happened to me after returning from a trip to Asia last year. I returned home and received a call from my bank to ask if I’d made any furniture purchases in the UK. This was immediately stopped and blocked, and while it’s great to know that banks are quick to action and query dubious charges, it still freaks me out because to this day, I don’t know where or how exactly my card details were stolen.
*if you’re wondering why it seems to have been stolen in Asia, yet spent in the UK, well, most of the time, when your credit card details are stolen, they are sold worldwide. It’s a prolific underground business.*
RFID means Radio Frequency Identification. All one needs is an RFID reader, slide close to victims, wave that thing around till it picks up valuable details.
How to prevent RFID theft?
Many sources (including the video above) suggest wrapping your cards with aluminum foil to prevent the card from being read by such machines. The problem with this is it makes it cumbersome for you to take your card in and out of the foil (the awkward motion of which may result in you being physically pick pocketed, or you dropping your cards).
Thankfully, many travel bag companies are aware of this rising theft trend and have manufactured bags with what is called “RFID-blocking” material.
Eagle Creek has a comprehensive line of RFID-blocking material bags, and on my recent trip to the Philippines, I was able to try out the Accordion Mini Crossbody RFID:
It’s available in 2 other colours (Blue, named ‘Sapphire’ and a mustard-coloured one, ‘Camel’). I went safe and chose Black so it can fit with any outfit.
While the material was sturdy, it was by no means rough or had any visibly felt wiring of any sort. It looks and feels like a ‘normal’ bag. What I liked about this particular bag was how it is able to pack so much despite it’s tiny size!
There are several compartments and linings inside the bag, and it also has a padded compartment for a mini-tablet (I have none so I used it to store my passport).
I was initially apprehensive to carry a smallish bag. I’m a huge handbag kind of person, but I’m glad I was able to try out a compact size that fits a lot, because now I know I’m able to travel with a bag this size and have everything I need in it too.
Because of the colour and size, I was able to take it everyday – whether it was just to go shopping, or to head out for dinner.
The straps are adjustable so it was great to have that flexibility to wear it any way I wanted. My only gripe would be the quality of the straps as they felt very flimsy. It seemed rather out of place from the material of which the entire bag’s body was made of.
I will definitely take this with me next time I travel. It’s such a convenient way to have all my essentials in one bag and know that I’m secure from the RFID-machine reader-wielding thieves.
Have you experienced e-theft while travelling?
I was provided the Accordion Mini Crossbody by Eagle Creek for the purpose of a review, but all opinions and thoughts are mine. There is no obligation to write in a favourable light.