NFC scam on the rise. One of the latest fads in smart technology is contactless payment. By holding the new credit or debit cards up to a scanner at the checkout in a shop, you can make cashless transfers. It’s a fast and convenient way to shop – without having to enter a PIN. But thieves also take advantage of this easy-to-use technology.

We tell you what you need to be aware of to protect yourself against NFC fraud.

Table of contents

  1. NFC scam: contactless payment
  2. What is NFC and how does it work?
  3. NFC signal interference – helpful method against fraud attempts
  4. NFC fraud: practical tips to protect yourself

NFC scam: contactless payment

Contactless payment is quick and easy with a credit or debit card. However, thieves can exploit the cards’ NFC function to steal money from cardholders. In shops, customers should be able to pay faster with contactless credit or debit cards and usually without entering a PIN or signature.

To do this, the card is simply held up to a specific device. The disadvantage of this contactless payment method, however, is that fraudsters can withdraw money from the victim’s bank account relatively easily. All the criminal has to do is get close to the card, intercept the data exchange and he has already carried out the NFC fraud scam.

A PIN number is often required for transactions of more than 25 euros. At some banks, however, deposits of more than 25 euros are also possible with a signature, so that fraudsters can also withdraw larger amounts. NFC chips are already present in most credit and debit cards. The wave sign on the card makes them easy to recognise.

What is NFC and how does it work?

Near Field Communication is the terminology behind the abbreviation NFC. With Near Field Communication, data can be transferred between a POS system and two devices as quickly as between a mobile phone or a credit card. Radio waves transmit the information at a very small distance of a few centimetres.

“Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)” is the basis of the technology that uses radio waves to identify objects. The exchange of data between NFC devices and RFID devices works in both directions, unlike RFID, which is a one-way street. Thanks to this idea, contactless payment is possible.

However, so is the NFC fraud scam. It is not difficult to find the devices needed to read credit or debit cards on the internet: A wireless reader can be purchased online for as little as 25 euros. With the right software and a smartphone, digital theft can be carried out.

Signal jamming – helpful method against the NFC fraud scam

Contactless payment with cards is secure, according to the umbrella organisation of the German banking industry. Moreover, consumers have the possibility to increase the security of the system by changing it themselves.

One possibility is to carry two NFC cards in the same wallet, which interfere with each other but cannot be intercepted from the outside. There are also RFID blocker cards and protective sleeves.

NFC scam: practical tips to protect yourself

If you are unsure about using NFC cards for contactless payment, there are several ways to protect yourself.

  1. Either the bank turns off the NFC function on your card, or you keep the card in an extra protective sleeve to protect yourself from this type of fraud. Protective sleeves that interfere with NFC transmission can be bought relatively cheaply in shops or online.
  2. In case of loss or theft, you should have the card blocked immediately by calling the blocking emergency hotline 116 116. This also eliminates the possibility for thieves to make payments via a mobile device.
  3. Anyone carrying bank cards with an active NFC chip in their jeans pocket or handbag should get out of the habit. If strangers get too close to the bank card, this poses a danger. An inside pocket, a breast pocket or a protective NFC sleeve are good ways to keep the card safe.

If you have become a victim of NFC fraud, our lawyers at the Herfurtner law firm will advise you comprehensively. Contact us and make an appointment for a legal consultation.