/ Money

Contactless cards: would you opt out of having one?

contactless payment card

Contactless debit and credit cards are fast becoming the default payment method for purchases under £30 across the UK, with spending on them having tripled to £25bn last year. But are you happy using them?

Fears about fraudsters using mobile card readers to ‘lift’ sensitive financial details from our wallets have been lurking ever since contactless cards were introduced.

It’s even led to some people buying specially designed protective wallets, or stuffing their existing wallets with foil, to protect themselves.

We don’t think these steps are essential, but there are certainly a number of flaws with contactless cards that appear to put users at greater risk of fraud.

For starters, in an investigation we carried out late last year, our researchers managed to spend over £200 on contactless cards without ever being asked for a Pin.

It’s also emerged that contactless cards can often be used months after they’ve been reported lost or stolen. And most banks often don’t tell customers when their cancelled card is used, relying on them to identify fraudulent payments themselves.

As Michael says:

‘We’re now told that contactless cards can be used for up to three months after cancellation. Banks must have known that, but didn’t let on, and should be liable for all transactions after a card is cancelled.’

No choice

In spite of these flaws, some banks appear to be forcing contactless cards on their customers.

Of the 16 credit and debit card providers, we investigated last year, all of them sent contactless cards to new customers by default.

Five of them wouldn’t allow customers, like Jane, to opt out of receiving them.

‘On my previous renewal I got a regular card and credit card after complaining that I did not want contactless cards. However, on 30 January, my MasterCard was due for renewal and came contactless. My bank apologised but said there was nothing they could do… I feel I’m being forced to find another provider, despite being a customer for many, many years.’

Unacceptable situation?

Now, a group of MPs has told banks that customers should always be given the option to say no to contactless cards if they wish.

The Commons Treasury select committee also accused banks of putting customers in an ‘unacceptable situation’ of being vulnerable to security flaws when using contactless cards, and called for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to help enforce stricter security to prevent fraud.

For its part, the FCA claims to be working on reducing the likelihood of ‘post-cancellation fraud’, but does this go far enough?

Would you opt out of using contactless cards, if given the chance? If so, what would it take for you to embrace this new technology? Or are you happy with your contactless cards?

Comments
Member

We were in a coffee shop the other week. Hubby got out a credit card to pay but was told he had paid already.

The contactless machine had selected an unknown card from his wallet to pay with. Worrying.

Member

I did some experiments when I received my first contactless card and it had to be close to the reader. I will carry out some more experiments now that far more places accept contactless cards.

It concerns me that I have to ask for a receipt for small transactions, and I always insist on one for contactless payments.

Member

I do think it should be mandatory to issue a paper receipt for all contactless payments.

Member
Bairnontour says:
8 December 2017

Have Which? studied and evaluated defence mechanisms to protect contactless cards from skimming theft? For example, a product called Skim/Guard has recently been heavily advertised in one of the broadsheets. Does it work? Does putting aluminium foil in your wallet help? Any other ideas?

Member

It would be interesting to know what the risks are, so that we can decide on whether protection is necessary. The industry reckons that contactless cards are safe: http://www.paymentscardsandmobile.com/21221-2/ The press has warned us that this is not the case.

I have been carrying around and using contactless cards for some time and have not had an unauthorised withdrawal. My understanding was that I would be asked to insert a PIN periodically, but this does not seem to be happening now. Maybe if I tried to make multiple purchases in a day, this would happen.

Some independent information and advice would be very helpful.

Member

Funnily enough Wavechange I noticed I had the wrong debit a card I only use it a cash machines and the bank . I checked right away by phone which took a lot of time till they were satisfied it was me . Not just one set of question but after a bit of talking they got me to answer 5 psychological question to test my honesty , I had to ask -did I pass – yes but they certainly tested me they were unusual . After 100 % verification by all sorts of questions about my account -date of birth – you name it they said they would send a new card and cancelled the old one .Yes I did ask if any money had been taken , luckily no but the card I had was already cancelled . its one of the new scanable cards you are talking about , same information given . I deduce that any unusual transaction will put a stop on it till they verify it with me . As you ask -what unusual use of the card ? Well I found out on a US website that banks have your whole history of card use , thats right the lot ! and use that to judge whether the card is being misused -reminds me of Equifax .

Member

We might all be a bit surprised to learn how much companies etc. know about us by data aggregation. As the use of contactless cards has increased, so has fraud: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-39942246

Member
bishbut says:
9 December 2017

How many times has a contactless card been skimmed in regards to other types of card fraud NO technology anywhere is 100 % safe Someone somewhere always find a way to beat the latest “secure” system Do not worry at all you will make yourself ill