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Is #contactless really safe?

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What a cool job Victoria Cleland has. She’s the chief cashier of the Bank of England and as such, her signature is on bank notes. She’s just been interviewed in The Guardian (here’s the link) just as the old tenners go out of circulation. Understandably, she’s a fan of cash – as am I. She is also less than enthusiastic about contactless payments. Me too: we could be twins (except she’s younger/thinner/blonder than me). But we’re both behind the times apparently as later this year it seems likely Britain will be using cards for more transactions than cash.

On contactless, Cleland voices the worries I have about it. While saying she doesn’t use contactless partly because she’s used to using cash she also says: “And I do hear stories of friends – this is a personal anecdote this isn’t the official Bank view – whose money has been taken off contactless when you walk past something”. I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone I know. But if I do pay by card then I insist that I put the card and PIN in: it just seems safer. So, I’m a dinosaur. But I’m not the only one – in fact, I’m positively modern compared with the 2.7 million Britons who only ever use cash. And good for them: I use cash more now than ever. It might seem a bit odd taking cash out of a machine with a card and then using the cash to pay for shopping but it’s a really good way of budgeting.

There’s another method of payment I’m not keen on: electronic transfers. With these you don’t know with absolute certainty where your money is going. That’s because you make the payment using the recipient’s bank account number. But if you get it wrong by one digit then the money could go to the wrong place: because there isn’t a confirmation with the account holder’s name. The advice on making electronic payments is often that you should make one small payment for a pound first and then check with the recipient they’ve received it before making the whole payment. Sounds like a huge fuss to me. Apparently this problem with not knowing who you’ve sent the money to will be resolved eventually: until then I’d rather not, thanks. If I need to make a big payment I’d rather ring up with my debit or credit card or if it’s a regular payment then direct debits work well (and are covered by the direct debit guarantee). Sometimes, cash just isn’t practical: even I wouldn’t think about handing over a bag full of notes.

See our SMM guide to being safe online here.

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Saturday, 22 September 2018