Contactless cards: twice the level of fraud

Contactless payments tripled last year, and now make up an estimated one in seven of all transactions, so it's particularly alarming to learn that people with contactless cards may be twice as likely to fall victim to fraud than those without the technology in their cards.


The use of contactless technology has taken off: the UK Cards Association pointed out that it took almost eight years for contactless spending to reach £500 million. Now it has grown the same amount in just four months.

It's easy to see why - as contactless payments are far quicker and more convenient than entering a PIN or paying by cash.


However, we seem to be paying the price for this convenience - through an increased fraud risk. Fraud prevention company Defender Note found that 18% of people with contactless cards had fallen victim - while only 9% of those with more traditional cards had.

The idea of being able to remotely read cards - without the card owner having to input a PIN or sign their name - has opened a new avenue for fraudsters.

Last summer, Which? purchased card-reading technology and tested whether they could take information from ten cards. They were able to read the card number and expiry date as well as limited details of the previous ten transactions. They thought initially that this wouldn't be any use to them, because they didn't manage to get the CVV codes, but they were able to order a number of items online using the information they had - including a £3,000 TV.

Is your money safe?

The UK Card Association is keen to point out that contactless cards were built using the same secure system as Chip and PIN. They also feature a range of security features to safeguard our information and protect against fraud - and they add that there has never been a confirmed report of money stolen from a contactless card still in the cardholder's possession in the UK.

They point out that you would have to get extremely close to read someone's card - and even then you would not get their name, address or CVV, which should protect them from anyone being able to make a purchase on the card. They add that you can't just steal money from a card - a fraudster would have to use it to pay themselves - so the money could be easily traced and returned.

They would be able to steal the card and make contactless transactions, but the system will require them to enter a PIN every so-often to verify they are the legitimate cardholder, which would eventually halt them in their tracks. Even when on their spending spree, each transaction would be limited to £30. And because you are protected against fraud, unless you had been negligent, you would have any money refunded.

However, there is a large swathe of people in the UK who are yet to be convinced. The Defender Note figures revealed that one in five people swear they will never use the technology because they are worried that they aren't secure, and a quarter are concerned that the technology makes fraud too easy. A third want to be asked by their bank before being sent a contactless card.

Morgan Rothwell, Director of Defender Note, said: "Contactless technology has revolutionised payments and made low-cost purchases far more convenient. While innovation is undoubtedly a positive thing, it's important that card providers and banks continue to make customers feel safe about embracing new technology."

But what do you think? Do you trust contactless cards? Let us know in the comments.

Contactless Card Payments Rapidly Rising in U.K.

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Contactless cards: twice the level of fraud
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