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Contactless Card Protection – Stay Safe When Christmas Shopping

in Blog Post 6th December 2018

Christmas means changes in the habits of consumers; however we choose to view it. Not only does spending increase across the board, but the ways in which it happens alter significantly. Of particular note are the Christmas markets across cities and towns all over the country, and how they have developed. 

Previously the domain of ‘cash only’ small purchases, recent years have seen their products increasing in scope and quality and use of card payment machines becoming standard practice. Unfortunately however the crowded, bustling atmosphere markets bring can also be a magnet for fraudsters looking to take advantage of the combination of Christmas cheer and card payments, and knowing how to stay safe is important.  

Exercise caution

 

Something which should be a constant, the idea of always being cautious and aware can sometimes be forgotten over the Christmas period, especially when alcohol is involved. Bearing in mind whether anyone can see PINs being entered is obviously the key factor, something which is both helped and hindered by contactless payments. The need to enter PIN numbers is of course removed, but the possibility of someone pickpocketing a card and using it immediately remains. Ensuring bags are never left unoccupied and that purses and wallets are kept in visible places are all good ideas. Many pubs and restaurants have hooks and clips designed to hold bags under tables to stop opportunist thieves, which should be used wherever possible. 

Skimming

 

An old problem, but one that is always evolving, is skimming; cloning of a card in some way in order to use the details for other purposes. Ensuring that during a payment process the card is never lost sight of can help prevent many problems. Always asking for a card machine to be brought to you is also a major solution; a vendor or business should be happy to do this. If they aren’t, going to the machine with the card and monitoring what is happening is the next best thing. 

Special metal sheathes to keep credit and debit cards in, known as RFID blockers, are widely available. While these play largely into the currently unproven hysteria that fraudsters with card machines could simply touch the pockets of others and take money from contactless cards, they are useful in other ways, such as preventing ‘card clash’. They also mean that cards can be kept safely in separate locations, such as pockets away from main wallets and purses, giving an extra layer of security should the former be lost. 

Their heavier feel helps make it more obvious should they be slipped from a pocket or bag than the simple removal of a lightweight plastic card. 

Consider solutions in advance

 

Even those taking every precaution may find themselves falling victim to fraud, so having some sort of plan of action in place if there is a problem can be a big help. Keeping cards separate is a good idea, perhaps even leaving one at home if possible, to ensure that the disruption caused by a lost card can be minimalised at such a busy time of year. 

Knowing the numbers to call to cancel a card is wise. Cash can also be good protection; keeping some available for an emergency or perhaps using it to make purchases in locations and environments that seem especially busy or crowded.  

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