A number of concerned customers have reported strange charges that tap-to-pay systems could be causing.
Shoppers say POS systems at large stores are accepting contactless payments even when their cards are far away.
“I hadn’t tapped it, I hadn’t pasted it, I hadn’t stolen it … and then suddenly a receipt came out,” San Francisco-based Edgar Matthews told local ABC affiliate KGO.
Matthews recounted a harrowing incident at a Safeway supermarket where his groceries seemed to pay for themselves.
He was about to put his card in the machine when the transaction was complete and told him to call a clerk and find out what happened.
“I really thought the guy in front of me… had been charged,” he told the broadcaster.
The confused shopper learned that he was actually the one paying for the groceries, but not with the card he was holding out.
Instead, Matthews explained that the machine picked up his American Express card, which was in his back pocket.
“So that’s a pretty big range,” he said.
Other buyers have reported similar incidents, with some being charged for payments taking place across the room.
Sonya Cesari, another California resident, said she was browsing a clothes rack at a local boutique when three of her credit cards were picked up by a reader while they were safely in her purse.
“I’d say I was safely two feet away at that point,” she told the outlet.
Everything was undone and her money was not taken, but she was still shaken by the experience.
“It could accidentally happen multiple times a day anywhere,” she said.
“It makes you very uncomfortable and scared and insecure and insecure.”
Contactless payments should only take place when the card or device is very close to the payment machine.
Credit cards with wireless capabilities communicate with the reader, which indicates when you want to buy something, reports the New York Times.
Then the card sends a one-time code that doesn’t reveal any banking information to authorize the payment.
It’s possible to steal someone’s identity over the air, but it’s such a complex process that the Identity Theft Resource Center rates it as “not a viable threat.”
In fact, personal identity theft has actually declined with some theories that quick transactions might be beneficial as people leave their cards on the go for less time.
And a survey by Mastercard found that 82% of 17,000 consumers saw contactless payments as “the cleaner way to pay” when fears of Covid-19 first surfaced.
Even so, concerns remain, and buyers have turned to products like metal wallets that can help block RFID signals used to identify objects.
RFID technology is now being used on high-tech self-checkouts that made shoppers feel like they were stealing from the store.