London: Millions of shoppers are now able to buy goods by simply waving their card in front of a reader at the tills, even if it is still in a wallet or a purse, thanks to a new contactless technology being brought in by banks.
But industry experts have warned that the information emitted by the cards can be stolen by fraudsters using handheld receptors that cost as little as 7 pounds on the internet.
This means cardholders can unknowingly surrender their personal bank details to a thief by simply walking past them in the street, the Daily Mail reported.
The technology in the card, known as radio frequency identification (RFID), transmits bank details via its own radio signal, and is accepted in many High Street chains, including Co-op, Boots and Pret-a-Manger.
It does away with the need for a customer inputting their PIN when buying goods, and was designed to reduce queues at the checkout.
However, a fraudster with a contactless card reader can easily collect the 16-digit credit card number, expiry date and name – known as RFID skimming – from anyone who walks past carrying one of the new cards.
They then have enough information to rack up huge bills at any internet shopping site – such as Amazon – that does not demand the three-digit security code on the back of the card.
“It has been a big problem in America for a while and is getting to be a big problem over here,” said David Maxwell, a former policeman and director of RFIDprotect, a firm that specialises in protection against card fraud.
Cards can be protected from RFID skimmers by being wrapped in tin foil or being kept in special foil-lined wallets.
Customers should also call their banks as soon as they suspect their card is being used fraudulently.
Ron Delnevo, of independent ATM operator Bank Machine, said: “Nobody really wants this technology yet it is being handed down to us by the banking industry. It is putting us all at increased risk of fraud.”