Chances are high that your wallet or purse contains a debit or credit card that is capable of contactless “tap and go” payments at physical retail stores. If you’re not sure, check the card for a symbol composed of four curved lines that look like radio waves:
Tap payments are easier and faster than payment requiring you to swipe a magnetic stripe or insert your card into a chip reader. No need to key in a PIN code or sign a receipt. Instead, simply hover your card within a couple of centimeters of the payment terminal, and you’re good to go. When you check your account records, you’ll see tap payments itemized just like any other transaction.
But is it safe?
Very. There are a lot of security features at work when you tap your card on the payment terminal.
Inside your card is a chip which uses an international standard of encryption to communicate with the payment terminal. Together, card and terminal create a unique code which is valid only for that single transaction. There is no sensitive information transmitted by the card during the transaction, such as your name or bank account number. So even if a fraudster were able to steal the information being transmitted, that information could never be used to make another purchase because the code would be expired.
While you may hear stories about hackers using scanning devices to steal the information off people’s cards, this kind of fraud is “extremely unlikely” according to the Canadian Bankers Association.
Perhaps the biggest risk is losing your card. If someone finds it, they could use the tap and go feature to make purchases. This is the reason tap payments are usually limited to a maximum of $250. It’s also the reason why Interac, Visa and Mastercard have zero liability policies, meaning you won’t be liable for unauthorized charges. Of course, any time you realize you’ve lost your debit or credit card you should immediately report it.
So keep your contactless card in safe place. But otherwise use it with confidence. Tap and go is a fast, secure and convenient way to make purchases.