He Knows When You've Been Shopping: Stocking Stuffers to Block Snoopers

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Christmas isn't a holiday for the paranoid, with Santa spying on you when you're sleeping, awake and, worse, knowing when "you've been bad or good." But retailers are hawking convenient last-minute stocking stuffers to shield information kept on radio transmitting microchips implanted into many credit cards, passports, licenses and worker IDs.

Tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) chips are used to carry and transmit information about everything from patient identities to card numbers. Reasonably or not, the fear is that thieves with readily available RFID readers hidden in bags and briefcases will sweep up credit card and identification data from others crowded with them on airport lines, at automatic teller machines, on subways and in crowded department stores. Despite industry assurances that this information is limited and encrypted, many consumers are unnerved.

Major retailers including Wal-Mart (WMT) , Best Buy (BBY) , Macy's (M) , Nordstrom (JWN) , REI and Sears (SHLD) sell wallets, purses, backpacks, bags, fanny packs, laptop cases, passholders and sleeves that they claim will block the "near field" frequencies used to read the ubiquitous chips.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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