Are Contactless Card Safe?

In this week’s security and fraud focused blog, we discuss how safe your contactless card really is when using to pay for goods and services.

As contactless cards continue to rise in popularity, with significant numbers of new users adopting the technology come inevitable security concerns. To combat any worries consumers may have about how safe the payment is, many security measures are in place to ensure the process is as safe and secure as possible.

Skimming

Gaining many headlines and garnering public interest in recent months has been the notion of ‘digital skimming’, in which someone could enter a crowded situation and use a handheld contactless card payment system to take money from cards through pockets.

In response to this, the UK Cards Association were swift to point out that there had not been any confirmed reports of it occurring. The main obstacle to this happening is that in order to process such a transaction, the ‘skimmer’ would need to have a retail account; something for which security checks are required and which are subject to monitoring and scrutiny for suspicious activity. As all card payments are also traceable, the likelihood of this happening remains slim at present.

Stolen details

The concern that rather than taking money via an unauthorised contactless transaction, someone may be able to use the card to steal details has also entered the public conscience.

In reality, this is also incredibly unlikely. The equipment to do so would need to be large, and even should it become possible, the only details stolen would be the card number and expiry date. With the security code, always located on the back of a card, is the most important piece of information, and impossible to steal in this manner, the information a criminal could steal remains small.

Factor in that they would also have no way to obtain bank account details, names, and addresses, and the need to steal details in this way is even less likely.

Contactless Card Skimming
Contactless Fraud - Credit Card Safety

Stolen cards

Perhaps the most pressing concern to people when considering the security of contactless cards is what would happen should their card be stolen or lost. Of course, this could happen, and the first thing to do in this case is to always contact the bank and cancel the card in question.

Other mechanisms in place include your cards feature security checks, which mean that occasionally you will be asked to input your pin number, even when using contactless, There is also a maximum of £30 that can be spent in any contactless transaction, meaning that large purchases cannot be made, and repeat purchases will be flagged as suspicious activity on your account.

Should your card be stolen and used, however, full fraud protection is featured. Victims will receive their money back, meaning that using a contactless card should give peace of mind.

Card clash

Known as ‘card clash’ to many people, the notion of accidentally paying via the wrong card, paying via two cards at once, or cards in some way interfering with each other is often cited as a worry by contactless users. Card readers can actually make only one transaction at a time, with the seller having to key in the details, making it impossible to pay for the same thing twice. If any instance occurs in which two cards are presented at once, the terminal will recognise this and the transaction will not complete until one card is clearly presented. As the card needs to be placed very close to the machine in order for it to register, there is also minimal chance that an ‘accidental’ payment can occur.