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Thieves can steal your bank card details in seconds using a legal phone app – here’s how to stop them

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Apr 10, 2018

Contactless cards can be copied in a matter of seconds by thieves using an easily available phone app.

Reporters were able to simply hold a phone near to a person’s pocket in order to scan card details. The action takes no more than a second and most victims would have no idea their cards had been cloned.

The simple app turns a phone into a scanner that captures the data hidden inside contactless card on a micro chip.


Credit cards silhouette

Andre Kay, security expert at tech ­company VoyagerBlue, told the Sun on Sunday: “If your debit or credit card is compromised in this way the implications can be terrifying.

“A fraudster can go online shopping with your money. They can also go to popular travel websites and book a luxury holiday that you or your bank will have to pay for.

“The fact it is so easy to copy a ­contactless card is a huge concern.”

The app can be downloaded to Android devices through the Google Play store. It is not available to iPhone users.

When the app is installed, the phone only has to be held a centimeter away from a card, and the card number and its expiry date show up on the phone’s screen. These can then be easily used for online purchases, or sold on to professional credit card criminals.

The paper’s reporter copied a card, which was in a ‘victim’s’ pocket, at several places in London, including an ATM, a supermarket, and on the Tube.

The app as not able to read a card’s details when the card was in a handbag as it needs to be next to the card to read its detail.

The app doesn’t copy the CVV – the three numbers on the back of a card – but these are not required by a number of retailers, including Amazon. 

The newspaper found that the long number of a card and its expiry were available on the Dark Web for just £5 each.

Contactless purchases, which can only be up to £30 a time are becoming increasingly popular, and the number of cards issued has doubled in the last three years, from 59 million in 2015 to 119 million by the end of last year.

£52 billion was spent in the past year using contactless cards, and during the same period, £14 million was spent fraudulently, up from £16.9 million the year before.

How to protect your cards

  • Don’t carry your card in your pocket. Keep it in a card wallet or purse and with other cards.
  • Put a piece of tin foil in your wallet, or purse, and put the cards inside that – scanners can’t penetrate the metal.
  • Be people aware!

Banks admit that once a card is cloned they can’t stop it being used fraudulently for some time, even after it’s been cancelled. This is because transactions happen so fast retailers have no time to check alert lists. 


Credit cards silhouette