Bay of Plenty police are warning Christmas shoppers using contactless cards such as Paywave to to avoid would-be thieves after a rise in theft complaints.
Police have experienced an increase in reports of the contactless cards being exploited and are warning shoppers to heed caution.
Inspector Steve Bullock, prevention manager for Bay of Plenty police, said a lot of dishonesty offending was committed by people seizing an opportunity.
"The best way to counter their actions and reduce the risk is to remove the temptation," he said.
"It is crucial that people treat contactless cards like cash. Most people wouldn't leave cash in a visible place, such as a desk or a car, and contactless cards should be treated in the same way."
Contactless cards don't require a security PIN or signature when being used for purchases of up to $80.
The tap-and-go technique was favoured among some shoppers as being more convenient but also made it easy for thieves to use if they got their hands on them, he said.
"Any loss or theft of a credit or debit card should be reported to the bank or credit card company as quickly as possible so that it can be blocked from further purchases," Mr Bullock said.
He said police also advised card holders to check their balances and statements at least every few days.
"Gone are the days where you have to wait for a monthly paper statement; mobile apps and internet banking now allow people to keep a real time track of their finances. The quicker you spot an anomaly and report it, the quicker the bank can assist you and prevent any further fraud."
In New Zealand, the cards set a limit of $80 for each contactless transaction without a PIN but thieves could make multiple purchases before the card issuer asked for a PIN as part of its security measure. Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden said it had received about 25 inquiries and one complaint about contactless cards over the past 18 months.
"Complaints are referred back to the respective bank's internal complaints process and only come back to us if the customer and bank cannot find a resolution," she said.
Ms Sladden said the inquiries were mainly from people not wanting the technology and a few concerned about security but none relating to theft.
About your contactless cards
* Look after your card and stick to the terms and conditions you agree to when you get the card.
* Generally speaking, you will not be liable for loss arising from unauthorised contactless card use unless you yourself have acted negligently or fraudulently, or if you have contributed to the unauthorised use of your card.
* The Banking Ombudsman has no concerns about security on contactless cards and said questioning the current spending cap was not an issue.
- Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden