Beware of new tap technology

A reader writes about a disconcerting experience with the latest credit card technology.

Dear Editor,

I recently received a new tap debit card when my old one expired. I was a bit concerned about the way it worked, but I activated it and have used it on occasion with the tap.

Recently I was at the grocery store waiting in line, and the lady in front of me placed her wallet on the counter next to the debit/credit machine. She took out her Visa card and inserted it in the machine. The machine beeped as it does when you use your tap card and completed the transaction.

The only problem was that the machine had charged the MasterCard that was in her wallet, and not the Visa card.

This was quite disconcerting to the woman, myself, and the person in line behind me, because the machine had read a card in the woman’s wallet instead of the card she had presented. The cashier informed her of what had taken place, and told her that the transaction would be to her MasterCard rather than the Visa as she handed her the receipt.

Later on I was talking with a friend whose daughter works at Canadian Tire, and apparently the same thing has happened there several times. My concerns have been borne out before my own eyes.

A few years ago we were cautioned that people could scan information from your credit cards and other forms of ID simply by being in proximity to you. Then our new cards came out with microchips attached, apparently to prevent this. It would appear that the same thing is happening today with the new tap cards. What really bothered me was that the store I was at says on the machine that it does not take tap.

There is a way to lessen the chance of this happening, by placing the cards in folders lined with foil. These may be purchased at Aberdeen Mall, but I would suggest that they should be given out to cardholders by the companies issuing the new tap cards at the time they are issued. Which of us wants to suddenly receive a bill charged to a card that we may not even use, except as a backup?

I am not sure what a safe distance from the debit machine is, but I would suggest caution when placing your wallet in proximity to debit/credit transaction machines. Women would probably be more susceptible to this because they often carry their wallets in their hands and set them down as they remove the cards to complete transactions.

Men usually carry their wallets in a pocket and hold on to them as they complete their transactions, probably due to the fact that the wallets are smaller.

Mike Baldwin



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