April 11--CORINNA, Maine -- With every advance in technology stands someone looking to take illegal advantage of it.
Some credit cards are now equipped with Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, which allows a card user to hold his credit card over a terminal to purchase an item without swiping the card.
Thieves have found a way of stealing that information when the card is in the person's pocket or purse by using an electronic device called a "skimmer."
Some wallet manufacturers have started selling products that will block the transmission of the cards so thieves can't steal the information.
Michael Levesque, owner of the Corinna-based Perfect Fit USA, realized that there was nothing on the market available for police who have credit cards in their wallet. Perfect Fit makes wallets for law enforcement with a cutout for their badges.
Perfect Fit will begin offering wallets with RFID shielding by the end of the month, said Levesque.
Levesque said he was contacted by a government agency he regularly does business with and was asked to offer wallets and ID holders with the RFID-blocking fabric inside.
"They wanted us to have this material, so I found it," said Levesque.
Perfect Fit specializes in wallets for law enforcement, fire departments and government agencies. They have 1,400 dies from departments all over the world that can be cut into the leather in order to fit a badge perfectly.
"We got three more today," said Levesque with a laugh. "It's a never-ending database."
Adding the nickel-copper ripstop fabric that blocks the RFID transmission was a logical addition to his wallets.
"It's a niche and we're taking it one step further and being proactive on what's going on out there as far as identity theft and just offering it to law enforcement," said Levesque.
Perfect Fit will stick to making only badge wallets, he said, and not wallets for the general public.
"You can't compete with China [in that category]," said Levesque.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, will visit the Corinna plant on Wednesday to view the new wallets for himself.
"We're going to make him a wallet and it's going to have a Perfect Fit badge in it," said Levesque.
Perfect Fit offers 3,700 varieties of items, Levesque said, including belts, gloves and holders for flashlights, batons, handcuffs and radios.
He has had to add more staff in order to keep up with demand.
"We're up 15 percent [in sales] for 2012 from last year," said Levesque. "We've never gone the other way. We've had a couple years with only 2-3 percent growth, but this year is already stacking up to be [great] with new products."
The Corinna facility employs 23 people, three of them added this year. The sales office is located in Goshen, N.Y.
Because Perfect Fit's badge wallets are produced in the United States, it gives Levesque's company a leg up on his competition in Massachusetts, which imports its wallets from India.
"We just have pieces and put them together. We'll be able to ramp this up in a matter of a week or two," said Levesque, referring to the RFID-shielding wallets. His Bay State competitors "will have to tell the manufacturers what to make, sample them. It's a pain. They'll be months behind us on this, if not a year."
In addition to law enforcement, Levesque said Perfect Fit has also been the go-to badge wallet maker for Hollywood.
"What's the show with Kiefer Sutherland? '24' -- We did all that stuff," said Levesque.
Copyright 2012 - Bangor Daily News, Maine