Dutch bank cards only safe wrapped in foil

The ingenious new bank cars that allow contact-less payment, are only safe against criminals in a metal case or wrapped in aluminum foil.

Criminals who have the right devices, can easily transfer balances off the cards by standing close to, or even walking past, a cardholder. The same risk applies to mobile phones that are capable of making contact-less payments. According to Gijs Boudewijn, deputy director of the Payments Association Netherlands, this type of fraud can not succeed if the card is kept in a metal case or aluminum foil.

More than one quarter of the 24 million debit cards in the Netherlands have been equipped with the technology for contact-less payments. Amounts of up to 25 euros can be paid without entering a PIN. The customer only needs to hold his card or mobile phone next to the reader. The new payment method is not yet common in the Netherlands, but it is expected to expand rapidly after January 1st, when the chipknip is removed.

Boudewijn admits that a trail experiment showed that a criminal with a reading device can transfer money from unsuspecting cardholders. "There are no cases known to us of this happening." He calls it a calculated risk. But to be safe, he carries his card in a metal case. "In that way, or with aluminum foil, the chip is blocked", he says.

As the payment amount for contact-less payment without a PIN is limited to 25 euro, the risk for consumers is limited. But a digital thief can strike a major blow in a busy shopping street. If a person can prove that money was transferred incorrectly, the bank will reimburse the damage, according to the Payment Association.