Protective Sleeves Distributed To Help Stymie 'Electronic Pickpocketing'

March 18, 2013

Rogue Industries was recently featured in an article in the Credit Union Journal highlighting our Rogue Credit Card Sleeve. 

Written by W.B.King

PITTSFIELD, Mass.-With a wave of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) credit card, a transaction is completed. And therein lies part of the problem for both members and their credit unions.

What's been dubbed "electronic pickpocketing" is the latest threat to arise in the rapidly changing payments and cards space. RFID cards allow members and merchants to bypass the need to use machines to swipe and read magnetic strips by instead using RFID chips that are embedded in the cards. Members and consumers simply wave the card past a scanner.

While convenient for the consumer, it's also convenient for thieves. RFID readers can be bought online for as little as $10, allowing a thief to read the data on a card simply by walking by someone. That allows the thief to pick up both card and personal information.

Some financial institutions, including credit unions, have begun responding by offering their members protective "sleeves" in which the card can be stored in a wallet and is protected from being read by a scanner until it is removed.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently named identity theft as the fastest growing crime in America," said Lauren Snead, Business Development director for Rogue Industries, which produces RFID secure Rogue Credit Card Sleeves. "There are already millions of RFID chipped credit cards circulating in the United States and millions more are being produced daily."

Among the credit unions that have begun providing such sleeves to members is the $16-million MyCom FCU in Pittsfield, Mass.


'As Much Protection As Possible'

"We do not have any security issues, but given all of the fraud out there, I wanted our members, and us, to have as much protection as possible," said MyCom FCU CEO Pamela McCarty, whose CU serves 2,450 members. McCarty explained that she began a search last year to find an inexpensive way to provide employees and members with a piece of mind.

"I had been looking for a protective debit card shield at a reasonable price for some time. Last month I got a call from Rogue," she said.

Before getting into the "sleeve" business, Rogue Industries founder Michael Lyons realized success with his Rogue Wallet, which also helps prevent identity theft. He began considering alternative security measures, explained Snead, which gave rise to the Rogue Credit Card Sleeve two years ago.

"The same material that is used in the Rogue Credit Card Sleeves is also stitched into the lining of many of our Rogue Wallets as well," said Snead. "To date, we have sold millions of sleeves."


Nano Security

McCarty had the same questions most executives do: how does it work exactly? Snead explained that there is a nano-thin layer of metal sandwiched between an inner and outer layer of paper technology, which creates an electromagnetically opaque shield blocking the transmission of radio frequency waves. The sleeves are Federal Information Processing Standard-approved, blocking a radio frequency transmission at the 13.56 megahertz range.

"This combination of paper and metal bonded together creates an exceedingly durable sleeve but at the same time, the material itself is remarkably thin so that it won't bulk up your purse or wallet," said Snead.

MyCom FCU is among a handful of credit unions currently testing the product. "I had them send me a sample of the product along with a quote. I was happy with both and ordered enough to give out at our annual meeting. We have plenty left for those members with debit cards that could not attend the meeting."

While a single sleeve costs $3.50, the price is significantly reduced when bulk ordering. And a dual purpose was realized with regard to promotion.

"There is no training or technology needed. It is one way to give our members some added protection, along with putting our logo out there," said McCarty, whose credit union's logo is embossed on the sleeve. "We are a small credit union with a small budget. This was affordable."

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