Protecting credit cards from contactless theft

  • #1
sophiecentaur
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Main Question or Discussion Point

The contactless card payment system is very handy but there is talk of the possibility of skimming a card by brushing against a victim's wallet with a simple gizmo. In fact, I've seen it done on TV.

What are the thoughts about how effective the screening could be with a piece of foil placed in the wallet? I would have expected it to give a good 20 or 30 dB worth of protection.
Even two cards, side by side in the same wallet could possibly protect each other - I know my bus pass won't work when it's next to a credit card and I have to unfold my wallet before offering it up to the pad.
I started googling but then I though that some PF members might have the knowledge about this already and maybe, even have experimented.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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This is an issue with the cards using chips right? The skimmer would still need the pin number though right?
 
  • #3
NascentOxygen
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This is an issue with the cards using chips right? The skimmer would still need the pin number though right?
No PIN is required; for amounts <$100 just access to the card is needed. Separation of up to a couple of metres between card and reader can be accommodated, apparently. Cafe diners have reported going to the desk to pay only to find card payment has already been taken and the receipt printed.

Metal lined card wallets are available to protect cards from being debited secretly in crowded places, on escalators, etc.

It's hard to believe banks and card companies could ever have approved such an insecure system so wide-open to abuse. I believe it is now possible to disable this facility on a card by card basis through your online account settings, if you don't wish to allow PIN-less transactions.
 
  • #4
sophiecentaur
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It's hard to believe banks and card companies could ever have approved such an insecure system
It's really scary! The only ameliorating factor is the fairly low limit to the value of money involved.
 
  • #5
NascentOxygen
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The only ameliorating factor is the fairly low limit to the value of money involved.
Ah! There you're wrong! If I steal your card, I can buy an any amount of groceries simply by swiping the card multiple times, each time paying just as the tally nears $100. So long as the purchases can be paid for in lots under $100, there is almost no limit, AFAIK. (Well, until you run up against the daily max for that card's owner.)

So while I can't buy an assembled bicycle, I can buy all the pieces and assemble it myself (well, those pieces priced under $100, anyway). :wink:
 
  • #6
sophiecentaur
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AFAIK, the limit in UK is only 10GBP which would make grand scale theft difficult.
I may invest in a lead lined box for my cards.
 
  • #7
russ_watters
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It's hard to believe banks and card companies could ever have approved such an insecure system so wide-open to abuse.
Agreed! So does anyone have any evidence/sources that this flaw actually exists?
 
  • #8
NascentOxygen
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Flaw? It's by design!

Local police report credit card fraud has soared since PIN-less payment was introduced to Australia.

I can't see why cards can't have a corner with a built-in strain gauge or sensor for light- or temperature-differential, and require that this corner be held between fingers whileever a PIN-less transaction is actioned. Then miscreants couldn't debit your account while the card is stowed in your pocket, wallet, purse, etc.
 
  • #9
sophiecentaur
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I'm really more interested in how to deal with the problem than anything. I have actually found the contactless system to be quite useful so I would like not to have to do without the facility.
I can't see why cards can't have a corner with a built-in strain gauge or sensor for light- or temperature-differential,
But present cards have none of those yet many people have one (even if they aren't aware of it).
 

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