Scamwatch: contactless card fraud

Scare over new threat to contactless cards...

POS on underground

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we investigate reports of thieves using portable payment devices to steal money from contactless cards - without even touching them.

How does it work?

A Facebook user called Paul Jarvis caused a stir on the internet earlier this month, when he posted a picture of a man moving through a crowd with a Point of Sale (POS) contactless card device; the sort you touch your card on in shops to make a payment.

"All he has to do is key in a price less than £30 and then touch the device on the pocket that contains your wallet," he wrote. "Ching! You've just been charged automatically on your touch pay enabled credit/debit card..."

It later emerged that the photograph was probably taken in Russia. But banks admit that "in theory a small number of contactless transactions could be made before the card is blocked."

How can I avoid being caught out?

Some card readers can scan contactless cards through wallets and clothes.

If you are concerned about contactless card fraud, it therefore makes sense to keep your card in a safe place - in a bag or inside jacket pocket rather than a trouser pocket, for example - and to be wary of people pressing up against you in public places.

However, this type of crime is not expected to take off because fraudsters using a POS payment device in this way would be easy to trace.

That's because payment devices of this kind have to be linked to a business account.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are targeted by contactless card fraudsters, you should report the crime to your card provider as soon as possible.

Most banks, which are keen to encourage the uptake of cards of this kind, offer a money back guarantee.

"We offer a 100% fraud guarantee for anyone who is a victim of contactless fraud," Barclaycard said.

London Transport Network Finally Opening Up To Contactless Mobile Payments