Protect your personal info

This past weekend, I attended both the Red Lake Trade Show and the Dryden Sport and Home Show.
At both events, I had the opportunity to speak with many constituents about the upcoming budget and issues such as hydro prices, the Experimental Lakes Area, and maximizing the benefits of our mineral wealth.
While these issues are important, there is one I raised that is not political: protecting your personal information.
Not everyone is aware but the latest generation of bank and credit cards contain a technology—Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID for short—that emit radio signals with pieces of personal information.
These signals make it convenient to pay for many small purchases by simply tapping the card on the payment terminal. But they also provide an additional convenience for potential identity thieves.
In the past, thieves actually would have to swipe cards into a fake reader to steal the information. Now, however, with RFID technology, they can capture that same information by walking past you in a mall, standing behind you in a line, or even bumping into you in the street.
While many credit and bank card issuing companies offer protection, such as encrypted signals and balance protection, these safeguards can vary and so it’s best to take small, simple precautions that may help you down the line.
One way you can help protect your information is through RFID signal blocking sleeves. These sleeves contain special foils that ensure the signal emitted from the cards do not leave your wallet or purse.
In hopes of protecting consumers, I have ordered a number of these sleeves that are available to the public free of charge through my offices in Fort Frances, Dryden, and Kenora, my booths at fairs and trade shows across the region, or by calling 1-800-465-8501.
Before being elected, much of the work I did (both professionally and on a volunteer basis) was as an advocate for consumer awareness, particularly in the case of door-to-door energy retailers.
While my position may have changed, I still believe very strongly in ensuring consumers are protected and these RFID sleeves are a way I believe I can help out.
Another thing you can do is call your bank and lower your daily RFID transaction limit to a lower amount, such as $10 or $20.
If you do not plan on using tap and pay options, you can lower your limit to zero (but keep in mind that such a move will not stop your card from emitting the signal).
RFID technology is not going away. In fact, the use of this technology is ever-spreading, with most banks and credit cards already relying heavily on the technology.
And as of July 1, all newly-issued Canadian passports will contain RFID technology, as well.
There is no reason to panic as a little knowledge can go a long way.
It is my hope that by writing this, many more people will become aware and take steps to safeguard themselves and their personal information.