How often do you use cash? It is probably a lot less than you did five, or even two years ago. With so many different ways to pay, spending money is easier than ever, which is precisely how businesses like it, but how safe are contactless payments?
The convenience of contactless cards, and apps like Apple Pay, have an associated risk but users are willing to pay that price for the benefit of the convenience they bring. However, the risk should not be underestimated, with Financial Fraud Action UK reporting that over 10% of all face-to-face card fraud committed in 2016 had been done using contactless payment technology and, according to UK Finance, contactless fraud rose from £2.9 million in the first half of 2016, to £5.6 million between January and June the following year.
You might think that the largest type of contactless fraud was unauthorised card transactions under £30. Surprisingly, these instances only account for around 1% of contactless fraud. The biggest thefts occur when a card is used on a machine that is offline – something the cardholder will not be aware of, as there is nothing visible to show this. When a device is online, it automatically checks the card is active and funds are available before completing the transaction. However, when a contactless machine is offline, it accepts the operation and stores the information to process later.
Stay safe with contactless cards by:
- Always keeping the card in your hand. Never hand it to a server to tap the card for you as it gives them an opportunity to skim personal details via the card’s magnetic strip.
- Checking your statements regularly and query any transactions you do not recognise with your bank.
- Using a special sleeve or line your wallet with aluminium foil to protect your card from being skimmed or cloned with a portable device even while it is in your pocket.
Some banks, including RBS and Lloyds, allow customers to choose not to have a contactless card if that is their preference.