Got a contactless card? Watch out for reader-wielding thieves in public transport!

A few days ago, a Facebook user brought attention to a new method of theft involving contactless payment cards. The thief goes to a crowded place, such as a train, with a point-of-sale card reader. They approach the victim, holding the device as close to the victim’s handbag or pocket as possible. Within a couple seconds, $25 vanishes from the account!

Using this method, the thief is able to steal a large sum of money from unknowing people. All they need to do is just stand nearby or muscle their way through the crowd, touching a pocket containing a card in the process.

The new method is widespread in the United Kingdom, where thousands of people have already fallen victim of this type of theft. For the time being, it is not widely publicised and no precise statistics of the number of people robbed in this way currently exist.

I thought it was impossible until I saw it with my own eyes”, wrote Paul Jarvis, a witness of the theft, in a Facebook post

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Most new Visa and MasterCard payment cards currently issued by banks are contactless cards.

A speaker at the Shmoocon convention gave a live demonstration of just how easy it is to fall victim of this type of theft. She scanned a card belonging to a volunteer from the audience using a reader she had purchased on eBay. This way, she obtained his credit card number, expiration date and CVV number. After copying the data onto a blank card, she transferred $15 from the shocked volunteer’s account to her own in front of the audience.

Find out how to protect yourself from this type of theft on the next page.


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