Another “Phantom Menace:” Contactless Charges

Contactless Payment Concerns

Another “Phantom Menace:” Contactless Charges

The New Age of Mobile Security

In this follow-up to our recent discussions, we’re actively addressing security concerns in two critical eras: the age of mobile technology and the era where devices exchange information through ‘touch’ or ‘bump’, as seen in contactless payment methods. This shift highlights not only the evolution of technology but also the imperative need for robust security measures.

Unintended “Phantom Charges” in the UK

However, merchants should note that this particular story, from the UK, doesn’t involve deliberate “hacking” into someone’s virtual wallet, but rather, “phantom charges” run up by the merchants — or at least, their wireless card readers — instead.

Customer Experiences with Contactless Payments reports that, according to This Is Money, customers across the UK are actively reporting accidental charges on their contactless debit or credit cards without their knowledge. Meanwhile, upscale shoppers at Marks & Spencer have experienced charges even when standing over a foot away from the reader. In a similar vein, Pret A Manager café chain customers have noticed unauthorized charges on their contactless accounts, highlighting significant security concerns with these payment methods.

The Prevalence of Contactless Terminals

Although the charges typically weren’t substantial – amounting to just over two dollars for transit fees – the existence of over 200,000 similar “contactless” terminals across the UK, in locations from post offices to Starbucks, presents a problem.

Advice and Measures Against Phantom Charges

“Customer reports regarding charge errors have been extremely low up until recently.,” the article notes. However, much of the advice dispensed on avoiding such phantom charges is aimed more at consumers, rather than any rethinking of reader technology. The Guardian says that “the Transport for London has told travelers to store Oyster cards and contactless cards in separate wallets or purses. This will help to avoid clashing unwanted cards near the NFC reader.”

The Technological and Consumer Challenges

Consumers frequently expressed concerns about being unaware of their contactless accounts, often receiving them through account upgrades or new cards. The article concludes by noting that retailers and banks maintain the technology isn’t to blame.

Considerations for Merchants and Consumers Alike

As contactless charge readers become more prevalent, along with the use of phones, in particular, as charge “cards,” merchants should also consider how to keep advising customers to avoid accidental “swipes,” be aware of placement of such readers in their physical stores, etc.

And, of course, be ready to listen to customers should ghostly, “phantom” charges show up on their account!

AVPS: Navigating the Future of Digital Transactions

That said, the phrase “charge it!,” will continue to mean new things, and AVPS is ready to help you keep transitioning into the future of digital transactions. From increased security to mobile processing and more, contact your rep today. No phantoms here — just friendly help!

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