With contactless payment technology on the increase, and with the payment limits having been increased as well from £20 to £30 last October, so too are criminal acts with respect to card fraud. That is why it is so important you do everything you can to protect your cards and passports too.
On our recent trip to Bluestone with friends, one of whom works in IT like BattleDad, we were told by W of a new card fraud currently quite prevalent in London (and across Europe).
Criminal gangs are going around busy places such as the Underground and tourist attractions with contactless payment machines and are using them to steal up to £30 from the unsuspecting general public. The Underground is a prime spot for them as it is extremely busy, especially during rush hour and at weekends, and with these contactless payment machines, they no longer have to pickpocket you to steal money from you. All they have to do is hold the machine up to your back pocket, gents, and hence your contactless payment card, and hey presto, £30 gone just like that. And ladies we aren’t off the hook either. With a range, according to the banks, of 5cm they could just as easily get £30 from our bags without ever having to put their hands in there.
One of the first reports of contactless theft was made in October 2015 and Which? even did a study whereby they were able to read personal details from contactless cards using cheap card scanners. They proved these card scanners can be used to not only steal up to £30 from cards, but with personal information as well they could make large online purchases with stolen data as reported by the Guardian in June 2015.
A study which was published in The Journal of Engineering, and reported by the BBC, found that by creating an antenna or signal booster, using accessible shop-bought electronics, the range could be extended to a shocking 45cm. That’s scary. And there is no doubt organised crime gangs have techies on the payroll who could build these signal boosters to be concealed in back packs, meaning on a busy tube station platform, such as Piccadilly Circus, they could walk up and down the platforms collecting £30 from everyone within range for as long as the tube is running, and no one would be none the wiser until they checked their accounts. And let’s face it, how many of us check the transactions in our bank accounts on a regular basis?
With this in mind, W showed us a cheap card protector which is a cardboard sleeve with a very thin layer of foil inside. You pop your contactless card inside it and this protects it from any near field communication signals. A layer of aluminium foil around your cards will do the same but I am certainly not going to carry my cards wrapped in foil.
Another way of protecting your money is to have 2 contactless cards in your wallet. A contactless payment machine will see both but as it cannot determine which card to take the payment from, it will (or should) decline the transaction. However this won’t work for me as I only have one contactless card in my wallet.
Carrying an Oyster card with your contactless debit or credit card may also help but that may only work if you a) have an Oyster card and b) remember to always carry it with your debit or credit card. Knowing me I’d forget to keep them together.
So I’ve decided to invest in the card sleeves that W showed us. They are cheap at £6.99* for 10 card sleeves and 2 passport sleeves from Amazon. Yes passport information can be stolen too with everyone moving to bio metric passports.
The card pocket has been designed to not only protect your cards but to also slip easily inside your wallet or purse too. They come with a lifetime warranty and money back guarantee but with 10 card sleeves in the packet you won’t need to reorder for a very long time, or at all even, if they did get worn or broken. Let’s face it, who has 10 contactless payment cards?
I am happier now knowing I am doing all I can to protect my cards when I’m out and about, particularly if and when I am in London such as for #BML16.
Another hint and tip W gave me in the ‘protect your money’ discussion we were having was to turn off the NFC and payment option on my phone as it too can act as a contactless payment source for Android payments. This ensures my phone cannot be used as a source of money for criminals and protects my money even further. You can find it by going to Settings ➡️ NFC and payment, and turning it off as demonstrated below. As far as I am aware Apple has something similar but I don’t have an iPhone or iPad so you’ll need to check this out if you are an Apple user.
Are you doing all you can to protect your hard-earned cash?
I’ve got 3 sets of the Tenn Well cards and passport protectors to giveaway to 3 lucky readers. Simply follow the instructions on the link below and good luck!
Terms & Conditions:
- Open to all my European readers and followers.
- Competition ends on Wednesday 21st September at 23.59BST.
- Three winners will each receive a set of the Tenn Well RFID Blocking Sleeves (10 cards and 2 passport sleeves).
- Winners will be picked at random and notified within 5 days of the end of the competition.
*at the time of writing.