Credit cards are extraordinarily useful and popular facets of everyday life in this day and age, but that doesn’t mean they’re foolproof financial tools which can be entirely trusted. As a matter of fact, a number of recent innovations which have made credit cards easier for consumers to use have also rendered them more susceptible to exploitation by nefarious actors who want to make off with your money or information. Increasingly popular contactless pay cards, for instance, are generating new security threats that experts aren’t yet prepared to deal with.
Here’s why credit cards could be getting more vulnerable to exploitation, and how to ensure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Radio frequencies can be hijacked
It’s a well-recognized fact that radio frequencies can be hijacked, but what does this have to do with your credit card? Contactless credit cards are increasingly popular, with JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Citigroup and others have issued at least 100 million contactless cards into the American marketplace over the past few years. These cards use NFC, or near-field-communication, which allows you to pay for things more quickly and conveniently than ever before by allowing you to tap to pay.
If you’ve never been exposed to contactless credit cards, you can take a more thorough deep dive into contactless payment methods by reading up on how they work. What’s really important, however, is that the NFC technology these cards use could theoretically be exploitable by nefarious actors. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that enables this to work in the first place could be exploited by hackers who linger in the area and hijack your information so that they can spend your money. While this is certainly a threat to some, however, it doesn’t appear to be a major crisis that could upset our financial system – according to CreditCards.com, for instance, RFID-blocking wallets that are meant to keep your credit cards safe largely prey upon consumer paranoia rather than providing real protection.
Those RFID-blocking wallets are usually incredibly cheap, costing only a few dollars, so it’s not like they’re a massive scam that are ripping people off. They do indeed work, too, ensuring that whatever hackers you do come across will be thwarted. The likelihood of something attempting to hijack your financial information by exploiting RFID technology is incredibly low, however, so it’s more likely a consumer trend than a serious security concern. Still, companies like Vupea and others may benefit from this trend as it could endure for years to come.
How do you get a contactless card?
For those of you interested in getting a contactless card, rest assured that the process is actually quite easy. According to the New York Times, for instance, more than half of all new credit card and debit card shipments will include contactless technology by the end of the decade, which is coming up quick. Chase, Capital One, Blue Cash, and American Express all offer contactless cards in one form or another, though the specific details of these offerings depend upon which one you ultimately select.
This technology has technically existed for well over a decade now, but it’s becoming increasingly popular these last few years because it’s now generally reliable and unlikely to fail on you when it counts the most. As such, billions of contactless cards will likely be proliferating across the globe in another decade’s time, provided something new and better doesn’t come along in the meantime.
Contactless credit cards are more exploitable than their predecessors, but they remain very safe and highly popular. Over the next few years, expect to see more of these cards wherever you roam.