Contactless cards are making it easier to defraud the elderly

Posted by Amy Flower in Identity Theft on 19 February 2016 - Amy is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

As technology steams ahead, there is an increasing risk that those elderly family members who are not tech savvy could be at risk of being defrauded by other family members. Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) has seen an increase in calls to their helpline regarding small, regular amounts of money being pilfered by family members who have easy access to their bank cards.

The AEA organisation recorded over 7,700 financial abuse calls and more than half of this type of call was to report theft by a family member. The statistics of these types of calls show that the most vulnerable were elderly women over 80 years old.

An appealing element to the contactless cards is being able to make a payment for a small amount not exceeding £30 and no PIN needed. Unfortunately this also means that it is now easier than ever to steal small amounts of money without needing to know the card PIN number. It is difficult to prove that fraud has occurred with the card, as no itemised receipts are given with the transactions.

Contactless payments have been on the rise since the amount you can pay for has reached the £30 limit, reaching £1bn in November last year. This new way of paying is convenient for quick transactions and helps to keep money moving. Cards with contactless technology are typically provided when new cards are ordered or sent after expiration of the old card. If you do not want to have a contactless card you can request a basic card from your bank, so that you do need to enter your PIN on all transactions. The only exception from this would be Barclaycard who now only provide contactless cards.

Lesley Carcary, the helpline's Scotland director, says, "We are trying to do more to educate the elderly about contactless technology, but we find that most elderly victims of financial crimes are fully aware someone is stealing money from them. They tend to keep quiet about it because they are very often highly dependent on the friend or family member who is helping themselves to the funds."

If you have elderly family members that use contactless cards, you can discuss the option of having a standard card or make them aware of how this fraud is easily carried out.

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