Think twice before you leave your wallet in your car - criminals are fleecing victims using contactless bank cards.
An Auckland tradesman is one of the latest victims after having his van broken into in Mangere East. He left the van parked for a short time and returned to find the window smashed and his wallet stolen from the glovebox, where he had left it.
When he checked his account later he found one of his "paywave" cards had been used at two service stations and two liquor stores.
PayWave and PayPass are payment features on Visa and MasterCard that enable users to pay for transactions under $80 by waving their card over the terminal. The payment method is also known as tap-and-go and negates the need to enter a PIN or sign a receipt.
The tradesman was notified soon after the theft by his bank after its card control centre staff noted strange activity and placed an immediate stop on his card. Counties Manukau police are investigating the theft.
National manager of criminal investigations, Detective Superintendent Rod Drew, said there were no specific statistics on contactless card thefts. "As with other electronic facilities, people need to carefully look after their cards and immediately report any loss to the card provider. Early reporting to service providers is essential, as there is no need for password or identification with this system, so it can continue to be operated until cancelled," he said.
An ASB spokeswoman said reports of stolen paywave cards had remained steady over the past six months. "Wallets in unattended vehicles continue to be one of the main scenarios for credit card theft. As a result, we continue to stress to our customers the importance of not leaving cards somewhere that they could be removed without being noticed. The main places we see the PayWave function being exploited are service stations and fast food outlets."
ASB's "Card Control" function allows customers to turn off paywave transactions, lock cards if they go missing and set spending limits.
ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick said: "We can't release specific numbers but ... relative to the number of contactless cards in circulation the number of contactless fraud cases we're seeing is tiny - less than most other types of card fraud.
"The number of fraud attempts has increased, over time, but that's possibly because there are more cards in circulation and more transactions. The numbers are still tiny."
Mr Herrick said ANZ customers hit by fraud would be fully reimbursed "provided they haven't contributed to the loss in any way and notify us that the card has been compromised within a reasonable time".
Kiwibank spokesman Bruce Thompson said the bank's financial security team had recorded a "very limited number of cases".
"We also have monitoring rules in place that would alert us to suspicious activity/transactions as a further preventive measure against card fraud for our customers," he said.
A Westpac spokeswoman said no reports of contactless card fraud had been recorded.
Spokeswoman for Visa in New Zealand the South Pacific Caroline Ada said card fraud in New Zealand remained at low levels.
"And our figures show there has been no increase in the rate of card fraud as a result of the introduction of contactless payments technology.
"Ensuring payment security is one of Visa's highest priorities," she said.
Ms Ada explained contactless cards had multiple layers of security.
"Visa and financial institutions also monitor transactions in real time to identify suspicious or unusual transactions and prevent fraud. Importantly, Visa cardholders are protected by Visa's Zero Liability Policy, which means they won't be held responsible for unauthorised or fraudulent transactions.
"Visa works closely with law enforcement and banks to address fraud concerns and would be happy to talk further on any security matters."
3 Safety tips
• Don't leave your wallet or cash cards unattended in a car or anywhere else.
• If you lose your card or it is stolen, contact your bank immediately.
• Some banks offer card controls functions allowing customers to turn off paywave transactions and lock cards temporarily.