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How to safeguard contactless payment cards

Follow these methods to ensure the WiFi-enabled cards don’t fall prey to skimming attacks.

Contactless cards are being used a lot nowadays. While they seem relatively easy to use, they have a lot of safety concerns attached to them.

Before we delve into how people can safeguard their cards, let’s understand how they work.

How the contactless cards work

The Wi-Fi-enabled contactless debit/credit cards work based on NFC (Near Field Communication) and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). The chip-enabled radio frequency antenna in the card establishes a wireless link with the POS (Point Of Sale) terminal.  This wireless link can be operated via Bluetooth or WiFi.

The NFC-enabled objects should be at a distance of 4 centimetres to allow the transaction. The card just needs to be tapped or hovered over the machine and the details get transmitted in an encrypted way.

People might also encounter certain security issues like cybercriminals can use free WiFi to activate the card and use card details for identity theft.

The contactless cards have multilayer security that ensures safety from the unauthorised transaction. The feature of POS terminal processing one signal transaction at a time reduces the chances of cross payment or payment duplication.

How to safeguard the contactless cards

  1. Wrap it in an aluminium foil

This might sound crazy but this actually works. Get yourself some aluminium foil (you can use the regular food packing aluminium foil as well) and cut it in the length and shape of your card. Aluminium breaks the transmission between the RFID and the card reader and saves your data from being stolen. You can also use a steel box to store these cards.

  1. Use RFID blocking wallet

The RFID blocking wallets look almost like a metal case in which you can find many slots to store more cards. This is considered safer and can be used for a longer-term than the aluminium wrap. You may order this from any e-commerce site or store.

Since these RFID cards consist of electromagnetic fields in the chip, the card can be read without any initiation of the transaction. The RFID blocking wallet can block these electromagnetic fields.

  1. Use a unique PIN

Firstly, do not use the same PIN for numerous cards or accounts. Try to set a different PIN for different cards, so that if just in case if someone steals the card he will have access to only that card and not the rest of the cards that you own. Create a unique PIN and do not use personally identifiable information for that.

Sampurna Maity
| Writer | Dancer | Travel Enthusiast | Foodie |


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