how do you protect your credit card from hacking and scams?

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Protecting your contactless bank card becomes essential when it is now possible to pay up to 50 euros without having to inform your secret code. Here are some tips to save you some cold sweats and keep your money safe.

contactless payment

The limit on contactless payment has been raised from 30 to 50 euros in France to encourage consumers to use this technology in this time of COVID-19 epidemic. This means of payment avoids touching the terminals in order to enter his card and provide his code. But if contactless payment is rather secure on smartphone, which requires user authentication to work, this is not the case for bank cards. If you lose or your card is stolen, anyone can use it to pay less than 50 euros.

There is also a hacking technique, which is not very common because it is difficult to set up, consisting of physically approaching a contactless credit card payment terminal stored in a wallet or bag. A smartphone on which a specific application has been downloaded and installed available on the dark web also allows you to siphon these kinds of cards. That’s why we share here some solutions to protect your bank account.

Related: Contactless payment by smartphone in France is a failure

What is NFC, RFID?

To start on a good basis, it is necessary to define and differentiate two terms that we will often repeat in the rest of this paper: NFC and RFID.

The Rfid (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a method of identifying by radio frequencies. This technology allows a reader (such as a payment terminal in this case) to communicate and identify another device (bank card or smartphone for contactless payment). RFID applies to many fields and can operate a very wide spectrum of radio frequencies. Originally, it had a military application, for example, to verify the identification of war planes entering airspace. Then it became democratized in many technology sectors.

The Nfc (Near Field Communication) stems from RFID. This is a very specific branch (a subset) of the latter. The NFC operates on a frequency of 13.56 MHz and offers very limited speeds ranging from 106 to 848 kbps. It is therefore only useful for light data transfers. One of the main features of the NFC is the very short distance (only a few centimeters) that is allowed between the two communication devices, which must be very close to coming into contact.

Protective cases and aluminum sheets

Faced with the democratization of contactless bank cards, which now account for more than half of the bank cards in circulation in France, several companies have embarked on the design of protective cases blocking NFC or RFID signals used by this technology. These cases are usually made of plastic, leather or aluminum. Beware in the case of aluminum: if you slip the case into your wallet, the properties of this material can demagnetize the objects in it, such as subway tickets for example.

contactless credit card protection case
Contactless credit card protection case

However, there are products that address this problem, such as anti-demagnetization aluminum sheets insert into the wallet to block contactless features. The other advantage of this technique is that it allows you to take your credit card out of your wallet and pay directly, so you don’t have to take it out of your case as well. But this means that you must systematically keep the card in the wallet to keep it protected, where the case has the merit of being more flexible, and convenient for users with a handbag for example. In short, the best solution here depends on your habits.

Protective cases and aluminum foils are available cheaply at many e-commerce sites. If you want to move towards more high-end solutions, be aware that brands popen wallets, card holders or RFID anti-wave wallets. However, a much higher budget is needed in this case.

Related: PayPal now allows you to make purchases with a QR Code

Clothes that block RFID waves

It is more a question of informing you of the existence of such articles than of advising you to buy them. They are currently rare, but if they were to become democratized, you will at least have heard of them. Some brands have designed jackets or trousers pockets are lined with a fabric that does not allow the waves of RFID contactless technology to pass through. They protect not only bank cards, but all objects that can use such a feature, such as the NFC of our smartphones.

denim norton rfid
Jeans with RFID protection designed by Betabrand and Norton

Norton (anti-virus) and Betabrand (clothing brand) for example, a few years ago, teamed up to design men’s jeans and a women’s anti-wave jacket protecting against attacks at the payment terminal discreetly attached to you. The choice of clothes is currently not very varied and this technique requires the purchase of several clothes if we do not always want to wear the same, we are dealing here with an inseable and expensive solution. But who knows, maybe in the future, these kinds of initiatives will become popular with the big brands, or even a standard if the threat becomes clearer.

A contactless bank card, danger, two cards, security

This may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, but multiplying contactless payment sources can strengthen their protection. All you need to do is store in the same place at least two NFC bank cards. Thus, a reader will be unable to interpret the data of the two cards at the same time, which will become intertwined. The payment terminal will eventually display an error without being able to log in and charge either bank card.

Of course, this method is only useful against discrete piracy. If you are robbed or you lose your contactless bank cards, they may be used by individuals who have entered their possession.

Contact your bank in case of theft or loss of credit card

We have presented above ways to protect your contactless bank card when it is still in your possession. But if it has been stolen from you or you have lost it, you need to react very quickly. Contact your bank immediately to opposition on the map. It’s best to have the correct number pre-recorded on your smartphone so you can act as quickly as possible.

If you’ve installed your bank’s mobile app on your device, check the settings to see if there’s an option to be notified for every purchase made. So, if you haven’t realized that you no longer have your credit card with you, you will be notified from the first purchase made and you will be able to act quickly to prevent further expenses. In such cases, it is best to be kept informed as soon as possible to limit the damage.

paylib number phone

Also be aware that you can simply ask your bank to replace your contactless bank card with a private card of this feature. You no longer have to worry about protecting it from certain types of attacks. If you don’t mind having to enter your code with each payment, this is ultimately the simplest solution. And you can still use your smartphone as a contactless payment method if you wish, more and more merchants accepting payment methods like Google Pay, Apple Pay or Paylib.

Security stickers and anti-fraud bank cards

Let’s continue with tips that aren’t specific to contactless bank cards and can’t prevent contactless payment by a third party, but can still help you better protect your account in general.

Stickers can be glued to the three-digit cryptogram (CVV) located on the back of the credit card to hide it from the sight of a third party. This protects you from hackers who would use cameras to identify the card number as well as the cryptogram. Of course, it you need to remember these three figures so that you can make payments on the internet yourself. Another merit: if someone tries to pay with your card discreetly (a child from your family for example) and removes the sticker for this, you will find out very quickly.

Dynamic Crypto Option

Several banks also offer secure bank cards. They have a screen on the back, and it displays the famous verification code (CVV). The system generates a new cryptogram every hour. So if your bank details have been stolen online, they will only be valid for 60 minutes. No one will have time to use your card since for this kind of hacking case, the data is not exploited immediately by the thief, but usually sold. And if your card number and cryptogram are retrieved by any means that does not involve entering the card’s possession, hackers will only have a limited time to enjoy it. Unfortunately, these features are often billed by banks. And they do not protect from the use of contactless.

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