Now, cyber crooks target contactless WiFi cards

In the days of social distancing we prefer namaste over shake hands all thanks to the novel coronavirus, however, the banks seems to have sensed this much earlier and issued contactless cards long ago. Generally known as WiFi cards where customer do not have to swipe their card nor they are required to enter PIN for making payments, just take card near to the machine and it's all done. But are these cards safe? No, say cyber experts.

The L T Marg police recently registered an offence of online cheating after an advocate lost Rs 1,994 thanks to WiFi card, interestingly the advocate realised his card had been stolen only when his card was used for transaction of Rs 1,200 at a grocery store in Airoli. Before the advocate could block his card it was again used for shopping of Rs 794.

Since it was a WiFi enabled card it did not ask for PIN, said police. "Such cards are generally known as WiFi cards but they works on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and can work at a close range not more than 4 centimeters. For successful transaction there should not be anything between the card and the machine, however, there are powerful NFC receivers available which can detected even when the card is in the pocket,” said Pushkar Zantye, cybercrime investigator.

Recently we came across a case from Matunga where Rs 2,000 was debited from a person's accounts without his knowledge. He told us that he did not make any transaction that day but said that a person collided with him in the market rather strangely. The victim said that the person with something in his hand tried to hold his shirt's pocket where he kept his wallet which contained his card. When he enquired with the bank they told him that his card accidently came near to the NFC enabled machine which made the transaction. However, since the amount was small the victim did not lodged complaint, added Zantye

The transaction amount for such card without entering PIN is up to Rs 2,000 for a single transaction and any transaction above this would require manual entering of PIN number for safety reasons. However, cybercriminals could make lot money with multiple such small transactions and since the amount is less hardly anyone approaches police.

WiFi card is nothing but a debit card embedded with a chip enabled with radio frequency antenna. It can be used at all the NFC enabled contactless terminals all over the world. It can also be linked to Bluetooth or WiFi.

Wrapping card in a metalic foil or by keeping it in metal card holder could minimises risk of unauthorised access, however the risk factor increases when such cards are lost.

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