Are contactless credit cards safe? see constablechaos blog

I’m a little worried by these contactless cards.

I recently got told that my new credit card had been  “improved” and could now be used for small purchases of less than £20, without having to type in my pin number.

I was informed that they no longer provided the “unimproved” type of card. I then saw an advert for a card wallet with a metal casing, so presumably others share my disquiet.

I, of course, went on line and bought a cheaper one. I also bought spares for my family members. They aren’t quite so paranoid as I am, so their wallets are still in their boxes.

The information is that these new cards have to be placed within 5cm of the till sensor to be activated.

Then, recently, there was a News story that M&S customers were being upset because  M&S had their sensors set at 30 cm and people were having the money taken from a card different to the one that they wished to use. The concern was that if mony was taken from the wrong card the customer could end up overdrawn and facing “fines”.

To me, they seemed to have missed the point and this was a repeat of the Passport and the Euro bank note idiocies.

The technology relies on R F I D (Radio Frequency IDentity) chips.

Eurocrats had intended to place them inside high value Euro banknotes (that’s how small and cheap they are), until it was pointed out that this gave thieves an excellent means of not only detecting where ones’ wallet/moneybelt was located but how much you were carrying.

British passports have them in. When they were first introduced, the airport sensors were set to read them at several metres, so flight passengers could stroll through customs without hindrance. It was pointed out that this gave an excellent means for terrorists to quickly identify British citizens on planes and in insecure locales. It was alleged that RFID’s were desensitised and the reception reduced to less than a metre.

I always doubted this, because the RFID’s are, I believe, like mirror’s that reflect the brightness of the light shone on them.

In the case of the Credit Cards being activated by M&S sensors, that 6 fold sensitivity could possibly have been made 60 fold, i.e. the width of most High Street pavements.

Would it be possible to fit a receiver to a mobility scooter and pick up a cheery £20 donation from every card you pass?

Presumably not, as you’d have to be an accredited shop. However, the device presumably reads the cards details, including the Pin number, which is obviously recorded on the chip.

What a way to harvest details for cloning cards!

And the banks will insist that customers, who have been robbed this way, are trying to defraud them, because their system’s are foolproof.

Once again, I say the law needs to be changed to put the onus on the Banks to prove that the customer is at fault, when money is taken from their accounts, without them present.

Seems I’m a little behind the situation. I’ve had a twitter link to another blog which gives more detail on this issue.


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