Thieves swipe credit cards left in cars

LAUNCESTON'S Criminal Investigation Branch has warned car owners about a spate of recent burglaries that have led to credit card fraud.

Detective Inspector Scott Flude said up to 20 cars were broken into last week and in several cases people's bank accounts accessed.

This was because the thieves nabbed wallets containing contactless credit cards such as Visa payWave or MasterCard Paypass.

Contactless cards are less secure as they don't require PIN numbers and, despite industry assurances, have caused concern among consumers and police.

"This paywave has been a nightmare," Inspector Flude said.

Launceston man Jon Hewson knows only too well the hassle of having a contactless card swiped.

Mr Hewson had his card stolen at a car wash. After attempting to pay for groceries he realised it was gone.

"By the time I reached someone on the phone to cancel the card it was empty - about 35 mins from leaving my wallet," he said.

"Turns out they had bought fuel, McDonald's and spent money at Kmart.

Mr Hewson only had $100 in his account so it wasn't "too painful".

"If it had happened earlier that weekend or during the week I could have been a lot worse off," he said.

His bank refunded the money and a new card within a week.

"I didn't opt out of payWave, but I'm planning on doing so," he said.

A Visa spokeswoman said there had been no increase in card fraud since the introduction of contactless payments.

"Visa payWave cards are as secure as traditional chip cards and meet all the same standards for security," she said.

"Contactless cards have multiple layers of security, including chip technology, fraud detection systems, a low transaction limit, a short read range and unique encryption."

Visa payWave-enabled cards are also backed by a zero Liability Policy, which protects all cardholders from unauthorised purchases, she said.

Tasmania Police have again stressed to car owners to always lock vehicles and keep valuables out of sight.


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