Keeping your contactless credit cards safe

In the Charles Dickens classic, the Artful Dodger used his quick wits and nimble fingers to relieve London’s elite of their purses and wallets. But pickpockets of the future are more likely to be sneaky tech-heads than light-fingered street urchins.

Over the last 10 years, more and more of our personal data has been flying around in the ether, with laptops, tablets, smartphones and now credit cards using contactless technology to transmit information.

Contactless credit cards are relatively new, but are an increasingly popular, quick and easy way to pay for purchases under $100. Rather than sign a receipt or type in your pin, if your card is has contactless capability such Visa payWave, you can wave it over the reader and you’re all set. Virgin Money credit cards offer contactless transactions via Visa payWave.

Both PIN and contactless technology are quickly replacing the old ‘sign-here’ style of credit cards as they are a considerably safer mode of authorisation than those subjective squiggles on a dotted line. In fact, from August 2014, you will no longer be able to sign for your credit card transactions.

But if you still have some reservations around the new wave & go style of cards, here are some tips to combat any clever crims.

Safety in numbers

Keeping your cards together makes them harder to scan. If you have a contactless ID card for work, you’ll know that it sometimes won’t scan through your wallet or bag. It’s not the leather (or plastic) blocking the signal, but other cards confusing the scanner.

Cards close to your chest (or at least where you can see them)

It’s never been smart to leave your handbag or wallet unattended, but as thieves get more tech-savvy you have to be especially wary about giving them an easy ride. With these scanners, you can lose your information without losing your card.

Watch out for space invaders

Traditional pick-pockets thrive in crowded places like buses and shopping malls. To use a wireless scanner they would need contact with your pocket or purse for up to 30 seconds, so beware of anyone invading your personal space.

Plot foiled

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Linda Foley, a credit card security expert, recommended using a humble piece of aluminium foil to scupper the scanners. Adding foil to your wallet will interfere with the signal and act as a shield for your credit cards.

Upgrade your wallet

If you don’t fancy the homemade aluminium foil solution, you could invest in a specially-made wallet that prevents your cards from getting scanned. Check out this range of RFID-blocking accessories from Bagworld.com.au.

There is one thing the criminals of the future and the Artful Dodger still have in common – a prison cell.