How to stop scammers doing contactless payments through your pocket

18 February 2016

There's an image that's been doing the rounds that's got a number of people a bit jumpy about their contactless cards. It shows a person carrying what looks like a contactless card reader, and should they tap it against your pocket, they can make off with small amounts of your money.

This is the image.

contactless scam

If you haven't used a contactless card (which most new bank cards are, these days), basically, small transactions can be authorised without a PIN code.

Now, this image has been passed around the UK without saying where the photo was actually taken. A little digging sees that the original photograph was taken in Russia. That's not to say that scamsters over here haven't thought of the same idea though.

Of course, on sites that aren't exactly kosher, there's customised Point of Sale machines on sale, so this could be a problem if criminals conceal them more successfully than this guy.

What Can I Do To Stop This Happening?

Well, the solution to this, should you feel you need one, is very simple. You can either buy a special wallet that will stop people from being able to do contactless payments through your pocket, or get an insert.

There's a load on Amazon, which you can see here. Or, if you want to shop elsewhere, look for a RFID wallet. They're the ones that will stop this nonsense. If you don't want a new wallet, you can just buy a credit card-sized insert, like these. The solution is cheap, so don't worry yourself unduly.

TOPICS:   Scams   How To Guides   Banking

16 comments

  • Christabel
    Or you could make your own, its only a bit of metal shielding to stop the signal, experiment by shoving tin foil in your wallet, or make your own anti NFC case for your card/cards. I made one years ago when the bank sent me one without me asking, I did it to prevent card clash with the oyster card I keep my debit card in it but I have never actually tested it with it, I tested it with the oyster at the tube station and that couldnt be read by the ticket machine or barrier. My one is made from plastic coated aluminium so its rather robust, there's loads of metal things about that could be tried, lots of cakes for example come on card with a foil glued to one side, baby food and soft drinks sold in pouches that are plastic coated aluminium, even juice/milk cartons have a metal layer inside. Make whatever you like out of junk for free then test it at the tube station as oyster is NFC or if you have a games console test a piece of the material against an Amiibo, skylanders or lego dimesions NFC base.
  • spampen
    even cheaper put some cooking foil in your wallet or stay at home and be afraid of everything new or just dont panic and report any fraud to your bank who will happily refund, because lets face it if you only normally use your card on the underground and at MaccyDs and £5 transactions at Boris of Moscows is going to stick out like a sore thumb and they arent going to quibble UK Cards Association will also tell you that conatctless fraud is negligible in the context of card fraud as a whole....
  • tinman
    This was featured in an NCIS episodes many moons ago did anyone take any notice ? Noooooooooooo!!!
  • Jordan
    @spampen This case was in Russia, I'm sure if it happened over here it would be for domestic transactions and not one in Russia still
  • Chippy
    The banks that issued contactless cards without account holders having any say in the matter should be providing the card shielding wallets free of charge.
  • Fagin
    Just ask for a r.f.i.d-less card from your provider, chances are they will automatically send you a card with rfid, but you are too lazy to say no thanks, I don't need one, nor do I wish to buy an expensive wallet gadget to protect something I don't want to use. ..I think, at this point all providers have to ensure there is consumer choice beyond the assumptive hype of RFID enabled ball-hooks.
  • Inspector G.
    Or even cheaper, don't worry about it. The bank is liable for fraudulent transactions where a PIN hasn't been provided, not the card holder.
  • Father J.
    "just dont panic and report any fraud to your bank who will happily refund" And who, in the long term, do you think will pay for all these refunds? "UK Cards Association will also tell you that conatctless fraud is negligible in the context of card fraud as a whole…." Well, they would - wouldn't they? Only the naive and stupid use contactless cards or, even worse, trust their mobile phone to make payments. Not everything new represents progress.
  • Trolley f.
    So which credit card aquirer was the scam artist using? Where was the internet signal to communicate the data transfer? Just the usually scare tactics!
  • spampen
    So Trolley F is entirely correct, whilst almost anyone can buy a contactless card terminal on the dark web\Maplins. Its fundamentally useless unless you have access to the Visa or MasterCard network to send your fraudulent transaction down to take the money from the card issuer bank. You need an acquirer, who has legal obligation to do due diligence on a new customer and Visa and MasterCard have reputational responsibilities to monitor for mass fraud, disconnecting you the moment they suspect anything nefarious. Exactly TinMan ! The bank is responsible just the same as if I nicked your card and tapped away buying as much as could until a fraud system blocked it. So if the banks are responsible for picking up the fraud lossses they are hardly going to release any old lame brained sht technology that leaves open to buckets of loss? Banks may be evil but they are looking out for their shareholders. Father Jack - I have seen the raw numbers from UKCA - contactless faud isnt worth doing, so it is negligible. Far more profitable to scam grannies to hand over their card and PIN and get down to the Apple Store and buy as much stuff you can flog on second hand before the bank blocks the card. This is a non story, even if the picture isnt fake. You cant steal anything from the card - the information the NFR reader can get off the chip is less than that printed on the front of the card. I dont do contactless payments because it takes very little longer than to do a chip a PIN, and as a runner up in The Most Cynical Bastard Alive contest 7 years in a row in the early milenia ( who also knows 'a bit' about these things work) I can assure it is safe - if you live in London its actually cheaper than using an Oyster Card ( although they dont publicise it very well - they are allowed to ), but ultimateley really just a bit naff. Apple Pay is just an excuse for wankers to wave their phones around- but thats another story....
  • Jessie J.
    Give Spampen a job Mof. What a well written piece. Wear my hat low.
  • Low S.
    Get a paper hole punch and punch a hole in a corner of your card, most likely you will chop the antenna (i.e. the wire that follows the perimeter of the card) and if it isn't complete, you have no RFID. You now have a basic contact only card.
  • Martin
    Yes a hole punch will work but - don't damage the magnetic strip on the back of the card or you may find it doesn't work in ATMs any more and you run the risk of a shop impounding it ( if they think you are playing silly bggers with your card.) If you want to do it chose a bottom corner and don't damage the Visa hologram. Your bank's T&Cs could well have a clause that allows them to impound the card if they don't like you doing that. Technically the cards are still the bank's property. As I said before quite a few banks will replace the card with a non-contactless one if you ask nicely. Certainly HSBC group ( including fd and M&S Bank will). Visa and MasterCard have ordered that almost all new cards should be contactless from January 1st 2017 so you had better get used to them....
  • Father J.
    Lloyds will give you a non-contactless card if requested. Barclaycard won't, though, and the hole punch worked a treat on theirs.
  • Mike
    contactless is a joke to be honest which is why they have a small limit on it. Should just have to enter your pin.
  • jeff
    or just have multiple rfid cards in your wallet to cause it to error as too many rfid‘s presented it doesn‘t know which one to pick

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