New products, Protecting yourself, Shopping

Fashionable ways to fight identity theft

I’m pleased to announce that shopping for new fashion accessories might be a more valuable activity than you think. Companies around the world are now selling wearable ways to minimize your chances of falling victim to identity theft. From smart wallets to stealthy socks, here are a few of my favorites.  Happy shopping!

iwallet.jpgThe iWallet: If James Bond had a wallet, I think he would own the iWallet. This suave-looking contraption reads fingerprints and is unlocked in the same way as an iPhone. However, it won’t respond to just anyone’s touch. The wallet remains locked if the fingerprint does not match the owner’s. Another handy feature is that the wallet links via Bluetooth to the owner’s phone. An alarm will sound if the two devices are separated.

After buying the iWallet, however, you may not have much cash left to put in it. The cheapest model costs $399.

The Datasafe wallet: These wallets don’t appear extraordinary, but the RFID-shielding technology hidden inside makes them potent weapons against identity theft.

datasafe-wallet.jpgRFID, or radio frequency identification chips, contain personal information and are embedded in contactless or no-swipe credit cards, passports and some drivers’ licenses. While this technology makes paying and travel more convenient, it also enables fraudsters to access identification information from afar, without ever physically stealing anything. Unprotected RFID technology can allow a thief to harvest the credit card user’s name, the number and the expiration date from more than 20 feet away, according to researchers from the University of Massachusetts. Datasafe protects RFID information, making it impossible for anyone to access information while the card is in the wallet.

Wallets come in both men and women’s styles.

anti-theft-pocket-bag.jpgAnti-theft Pocket Bag: As the name implies, stealing this bag, and thus the important personal information stored inside, would be quite a feat. The shoulder strap, the bottom and the sides of the purse are made with reinforced steel to prevent opportunists from easily swiping or accessing any of the bags’ contents.

The zippers are the coolest part, though. At first glance, they look more like part of a brainteaser game than an actual functioning purse. To operate them, a security clasp must be unlatched. Though this doesn’t require much effort, it is an extra step — one that may deter pickpockets that are looking for an easy target.

Nio tags:
This device is helpful for those who would like to tighten security without purchasing a brand new purse or wallet.

nio-tags.jpgNio tags look like key chains but function as little alarms that can be set to sound if an object is moved, opened or lost. As with the iWallet, Nio tags connect via Bluetooth to a mobile phone. The owner sets a security parameter so that when an object is moved a certain distance from the phone, he or she will be alerted. The Nio tag can also serve as a motion detector. If anyone attempts to open the item in question, an alarm will go off.

The tags can be attached to almost any personal item — the company even advertises it as a way to keep track of wayward toddlers.

Screaming Purse Alarm: Here’s another gadget that can be added to a current accessory to supplement security. This alarm looks like an ordinary keychain, but when activated, it emits the sound of a woman’s screams.

screaming-alarm.jpgI’m not sure the YouTube clip does this product justice. According to the manufacturer, the alarm reaches an earsplitting 130 decibels. That is nearly equivalent to the amount of noise a jet plane makes when it takes off.

What’s nice about this alarm is that it demands attention. I think we’re all guilty of hearing and then quickly ignoring many common distress signals (such as a neighbor’s car alarm), but it’s nearly impossible to dismiss what sounds like the painful dismembering of some poor woman.

Even if you’re not worried about security, these might be fun to have around just for amusement. Ten bucks says this could really liven up a meeting.

Zip-it crew sock:zip-it-crew-sock.jpg Even the most seasoned pickpockets probably wouldn’t think to check their victims’ socks. Zip-its take advantage of this common oversight. Each sock has a hidden compartment into which a person may tuck his or her valuables. While I don’t think anyone will be sporting this look on the runway, these socks could be huge help in safeguarding your cash and plastic when on vacation.

So, use this opportunity to go shopping in the name of safety. If anyone has experience with these or other identity theft fighting fashion, I’d love to hear about it.

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