What to Do to Keep Yourself Secure When Using Contactless Payment?

contactless payment security

Contactless payment has become a common sight. It's an easy and hassle-free way to pay for goods, but is it as safe as they say? How can we make sure our credit and debit cards won't get hacked and our funds drained with this payment system?

We see plenty of warnings about contactless payment all the time on social media. Stories posted on Reddit or Tumblr about credit card frauds carrying chip and pin machines like some kind of ATM boogeymen stealing money from people in plain sight. Sounds ridiculous, but is there any truth to it?

Why thieves don’t carry chip and pin machines

In order to purchase and use a chip and pin machine, you have to register it much like you need to register with a provider before you can use the internet. All of these chip and pin machines are monitored for exactly this sort of fraud schemes. Additionally, even registering such a device is a hassle and requires the thieves to jump through a number of legal hoops. So as soon as a card thief tries to pull this he'd get busted. There are other ways to exploit contactless payments, however.


So direct theft is seemingly out of the question, but are there any other ways to steal via contactless payment? Well, one such method is called "skimming". This is the method of stealing card information for later use. You don't need a chip and pin machine for it, even a simple smartphone with the right software will do the job.

The thieves can get a lot from that. They can get your full 16-digit card number, the card type, your bank, the expiry date, and most worrisome, your name. With that kind of information, the cybercriminals can create a copy of your card and use it on outdated ATMs, shady online stores, or other places with lax security measures. Some thieves collect hundreds or even thousands of payment card details, which they sell later. With this kind of scheme, it's almost impossible to trace the cyber thieves, because there is no record of any financial transactions, no names, no addresses, nothing to go on.

Contactless cards may work even after being canceled

When the contactless payment was originally conceived people had concerns about pickpockets and other criminals being able to quietly steal cards from the pockets of people and make expensive purchases before the victim knew what was even going on. Naturally, the banks assured us that a reportedly stolen card would be canceled immediately, but there have been multiple cases where victims report their cards being active days, weeks, and even months after being revoked.

You should keep an eye on your bank account and your bank statements for any irregularities if you use a contactless card. If you notice anything unusual at all you must contact your bank.

If you are concerned you can buy special RFID-blocking wallets, which protect your card from being read and cloned by thieves. Alternatively, you can simply ask your bank for a non-contactless payment card.

Contactless payments on smartphones

When it was announced that contactless payments would be possible via smartphones security experts were more than a little worried. The idea that credit card details could be stored and sent through a smartphone was suspicious for obvious reasons. Experts in the field were understandably worried that if cybercriminals could your payment card details through a wallet or purse they could have an even easier time doing it from your phone, which often your hand or back pocket.

Fortunately, this system only works for certain payments. With services like ApplePay, for example, you could only transmit card details if your phone was near a chip and pin machine. It also requires your 16-digit number, a thumbprint or password.

Contactless payments are mostly safe, but it never hurts to keep an eye on open for anything unusual. Keep track of your bank statements for any suspicious transactions if you use contactless payments often.

July 19, 2018

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