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Contactless payment: should you trust it?

I like using contactless payment, but I do worry about it’s security. So, I’ve contacted the UK association that oversees card payments to try to debunk the myths that concern me about using this handy form of payment. Read on to find out the answers…

If you would like a receipt, the retailer has to provide one even if you pay by contactless

Contactless payment, when you tap your bank card on the payment terminal rather than keying in your PIN number, is so handy if you’re in a hurry or you’re not very good at remembering your PIN!

In the UK there is a £30 limit to a contactless transaction (the equivalent limit is €25 in France, $100 in Canada or $100 in Australia, according to the UK Card Association). From time-to-time you will have to enter your PIN (so do try to remember it).

Visa says the number of “tap and go” card payments in 2017 across Europe has nearly tripled compared with a year earlier and people in the UK, Poland and Spain tend to use contactless the most. According to Visa, Millennials lead contactless adoption – over three quarters have made a contactless payment. One reason why contactless is so popular in the UK is that it can be used to pay for Transport for London services with the fee for an Underground journey costing the same using contactless as it does with the special Oyster card.

But despite the accelerated adoption there are still some myths circulating about the safety of contactless payment. I contacted the UK Card Association to debunk four myths that circulate about contactless payments (and put my own mind at rest).

First of all, it’s important to establish two facts about Contactless:

  1. Contactless cards use the same Chip & PIN technology as other bank cards, so your personal information is just as secure with contactless as it is with your credit or debit card.
  2. If you are the victim of fraudulent use of your contactless card, you will get your money back from your bank.
It is worth checking that the operator has keyed in the correct transaction amount before tapping your card.

Myth 1

A fraudster can grab my details from my card

“You have to be extremely close to someone for their gadget to be able to read your card. Even then, they would only get the card number and expiry date which is the same information you see by simply looking at the front of any card. There’s no way anyone can access to the important details such as the security code on the back of the card, your name and address, or bank account details.”

Myth 2

Someone could take money from me by bumping into me and my card in the street

“First of all, for someone to use your card, they have to have a retailer’s account and will have gone through stringent security checks to get one. Secondly, a contactless card has to be used in a specific way to work. That means it can only be a few centimetres away from the card reader and not near any metal objects, like keys and mobile phones, or indeed any other contactless card. The fraudster would also need to know where your card is.”

“So, waving a card reader about in the street or on a train couldn’t take a payment from passers-by and there’s never been any verified report of this ever happening in the UK.”

Myth 3

If a fraudster gets hold of my card, they could go on a spending spree without me knowing

“A fraudster could use your card, charging up to the limit each time. However, if you lose your card, or think it might have been stolen, then you should contact your bank straight away. You are fully protected against fraud, so you get all your money back and will never be left out of pocket. If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, contact your bank immediately.”

Myth 4

I carry more than one contactless card, so I could pay twice for my shopping

“The payment terminal will only accept one card at a time, so having two cards is not a problem. If you wave your wallet at the payment terminal and it has two cards in it, the cards will clash, and no payment will be taken. To make sure that you pay with the right card, we always recommend taking the card you want to pay with out of your purse or wallet and touching it against the card reader.”

Hopefully, this myth debunking has made you feel more secure about using contactless payment wherever you are in the world.

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