Not so long ago I made a purchase at one of the local stores. As I was looking at the teller’s machine for the card insertion point, so that it could read the “chip” on my card, the attendant serving me, a young girl perhaps in her late teens, exclaimed….” Oh you don’t need to do that, you have one of the new cards,… here, just tap the card”…In my stupor trying to understand what she had just said I looked at her. She just as quickly grabbed my card and “tapped” it to the screen. Immediately the machine responded with its whirring sound and spit out the paper receipt which indicated that the sale was now complete.
As she looked at me with a smirk on her face, no doubt because of my own dumb looking expression trying to grasp what had just happened, I exclaimed ….. “but I did not enter my code to accept the purchase”. With a continued girlish giggle she exclaimed with no more of a what to do than…”oh you don’t have to, your card has the tap feature. See this little icon in the corner,” a small transmit signal strength display, “that means you can just tap the card.”
She continued to look at me with that youthful grin, no doubt proud of herself that she had once more educated some old ignorant geezer of the new way of shopping. Of which she appeared to be much more cognizant and comfortable of the process than I am.
Well, in my defense, I would not exactly call myself an “old ignorant geezer” but I am for sure old enough to be her grandfather. I grabbed my purchase and left the counter, mind wheeling and wondering about this new card feature.
The transaction certainly was a new one on me. I had not heard of the new card characteristic now making its way into the market place. I suppose in that sense I was technologically ignorant. Now I do travel a lot globally, and often see banking card features overseas before I see them here in North America. This tap feature however was a new one on me, but not one that I would quickly accept at face value. This merited further investigation for sure. I set out to discover just exactly what this “TAP” feature is. I asked various vendors as well as my banking establishment. As they all explained to me that the new cards now transmit a signal that the vendors can read and seamlessly complete the purchase transaction. No numbers to forget. Naturally,I exclaimed that if it can do this without my entering any secret pin number, then “ANYBODY” with my card can make their own transaction, using my card, and this could happen without my ever knowing it.
I must be the stupid one because both vendors and banking tellers quickly and without any alarm iterated that …. “of course that could happen but the bank limits the amount to some small pre-determine value that you determine. As well some merchants reduce that amount, even more”… As well the banking tellers always iterated that if you should lose your card the need to alert the bank “AS SOON” as you are aware that your card is missing. Doing further research on the web I see much text from the financial institution repeating that the burden is on me to guard my card AND alert the bank quickly, blah blah….the legalese jargon is too long to point everything here but makes for an interesting read on how they develop slumped shoulders.
Well I don’t know about getting with the times, but I think this is inherently wrong. For sure it has a certain degree of speed and convenience, which the marketing departments are quick to outline for you. They are however much slower to indicate the potential liabilities that it also gives the thieves of this world Cart Blanche to shadow you.
Now I agree that I am not technologically the most savvy and I know that out there, are hackers, or just plain seedy people which are way more advanced than I am, and FAR less scrupulous than myself. Let’s look briefly at these transmitting cards for a moment. If I can buy online an attachment for my phone which lets me scan credit cards, then I am sure that somewhere is also available a tap reader, whether on open market or the seedy alleys. What is the transmit distance of these cards? Likely not far, but it does not matter, I am sure that the seedy engineers of this world can create signal enhancers to increase whatever signal emitted. Once upon a time a pick pocket had to physically touch you to extract $10 or $20 dollars from my pocket. Now he just needs to scan me. Once he has my code and he is smart he will not empty my account. Taking a random few dollars here from various people could render someone a good wages,….TAX free. How long before any of us ever notice that a ten dollar coffee charge was not done by ourselves. Does anyone EVER check, absolutely every charge printed on their bank account? Carrying this thought a bit further if one can find a card reader why not a card creator. My card certainly was created by a machine. Now potentially two of my cards “could” exist. Which vendor would ever raise a suspicious eyebrow because a transaction did not go through? After all it’s for such a small amount, as stated earlier. Any thief could easily and believably shrug off the inconvenience and just pull out a different card or pay cash, since the tap card will equally work at the ATM. When I spoke to one of my banking person I expressed that this feature HAS TO BE youth driven. I was told then that no older people wanted the new cards too. Perhaps, but I am sure older people are the minority. I for one cannot believe that we are in such a rush that we cannot spend an extra thirty seconds max, to enter a four digit code.
I believe that our younger to middle aged people are so technology driven that they are blind to the potential hazards. I also believe that the banks are showing a certain degree of irresponsibility in providing it just because people want it. Is the market such that the fear of “ if we don’t provide it, someone else will and we lose all those transactions revenue.”
I often thought of trying to do the math on how many ATM transaction any bank does in the run of a day. At one to three dollars a pop, for bank visiting users I am sure it would scare most people, more automation and less people.
No, I am sorry, but for me, I have requested the feature to be TURNED OFF at my banking institution. I will depend a bit longer on my stupid four digit code, and follow the bank’s instruction: “always guard and protect your pin”.
What if I forget my pin you say? Well I guess I will do without my coffee today and visit my nearest branch to get my numbers or a NEW one re-initiated. At least if I “drop” my card on the floor, nobody can pick it up and buy their coffee from MY pocket, much less slowly and unexpectedly bleed me for months or possibly years when I get a new card.
Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.