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How secure are contactless card payments?

Find out how contactless is a secure way to pay and get the answers to common misconceptions.


Facts about contactless payments

There’s been a huge rise in the use of contactless cards in the UK. One in four card payments are now contactless, totalling more than £3.3 billion every month.

However with every new technology, myths develop about security. So what are the facts about contactless cards?

  • Contactless cards are built using the same secure system as Chip & PIN, so you can be fully confident when paying.
  • Every contactless card includes a range of robust security features which safeguard your information and protect you against fraud.
  • There have never been any confirmed reports of money being ‘stolen’ from a contactless card still in a cardholder’s possession in the UK.

And remember, unlike if you lose cash, if you are victim of card fraud you will get your money back from your bank and will never be left out of pocket.


Common misconceptions about contactless payments


1.) A fraudster can steal my details from my contactless 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.

As the vast majority of online retailers require additional details like these to make a purchase, there is very little chance of a fraudster being able to make online transactions.


2.) A fraudster could take money from my card just by bumping into me in the street or on public transport



It’s not possible to simply ‘steal’ cash from a contactless card as money has to go through the card system.

First of all, you must have a retail account to get any money from a card payment. There are thorough security checks before these can be set up and new accounts are continuously monitored for any suspicious activity.
Moreover, as every card payment is fully traceable, right through to the recipient account, if any fraudulent activity was reported the recipient could be easily identifiable and the money would be taken back.

Finally, 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.

3.) If I lose my card all of my money can be taken through contactless transactions



Every card has an in-built security check which means from time-to-time you have to enter your PIN to verify that you are the genuine cardholder. You can also only spend a maximum of £30 in any single contactless transaction.

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 of your money back and will never be left out of pocket.

If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, contact your bank immediately.


4.) I could accidentally pay for someone else's shopping by walking past them at the till.



Contactless cards only work when they are just a few centimetres from the card machine, so there’s no chance you could end up paying for someone else’s shopping.

5.) If I've got two contactless cards in my purse or wallet, I might pay for my shopping twice.



There’s no way you can pay for the same purchase on two cards at once. That’s because card machines can only ever do a transaction with one card at a time. Every individual transaction has to be keyed in separately by the sales assistant.

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. If you present your purse or wallet to the device and it contains more than one contactless card, the cards will clash and no payment will be taken.

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