Does Contactless Payment Put You at Risk?

Posted April 19, 2016 - updated June 16, 2016 by cccadmin in

RFID Credit Card Transaction

Imagine walking down the street and having your credit card information remotely stolen without even realizing it. That’s what could happen to you if you have a credit card with radio-frequency identification (RFID). Credit card companies and thieves seem to be caught in an endless game of cat and mouse. Every time there’s an advancement in technology, thieves seem to find a way to exploit it. Should you be worried if you have a credit card with RFID? Let’s take a look.

What is RFID?

Today nearly every credit card in Canada comes with RFID. How do you know if your credit card has RFID? It should have the soundwave symbol on the front of the card. The terms RFID and contactless payment have become synonymous. Through the magic of RFID, you can make contactless payments with MasterCard PayPass and Visa payWave. While contactless payment is convenient, it’s not without its risks. There are devices out there that let criminals read and steal your credit card information from afar.

Protecting Yourself

With every vulnerability, comes a business opportunity. Global News recently published an article on RFID protection for your wallet. There’s a kind of aluminum armour you can buy to keep your credit cards safe from scanners. Companies like Mountain Equipment Co-op are selling a variety of products, including bags, money belts and wallets with RFID protection.

While these RFID protection devices may sound great, there’s one major flaw. Although criminals can steal your credit card information with a scanner, they’re missing some crucial information: your PIN and the three-digit security code found on the back of your credit card. Without those, it’s hard for them to use your credit card information to their advantage. In order for criminals to come out ahead, they need to figure out how to get the credit card company to pay them as if they are the merchant (not an easy task).

Further Protection

Credit card companies have stepped up security with RFID credit cards. RFID chips are built with strong encryption, making it difficult for thieves to steal your data. On top of that, RFID chips send a one-time use code for every transaction. RFID technology has been evolving over the years. With each passing generation, encryption gets stronger.

What if criminals somehow do find a way to steal your credit card information and make fraudulent purchases under your name? The good news is that credit cards like MasterCard and Visa come with zero liability. If you’re not at fault for a fraudulent purchase, it’s your credit card company that must pony up the cash. This makes it in the credit card company’s best interest to ensure contactless payment is safe and secure.

The Bottom Line

You’re much more likely to have your credit card information stolen by skimming. Despite the low risk of RFID technology, you should still keep a close eye on your surroundings. Whether you’re walking down the street or at the supermarket checkout, be on the lookout for suspicious people. Having your credit card information stolen can lead to headaches like identity theft, so protect your credit card at all cost.