With a wave, it was gone, paid by wrong card

Brian McKay, of Dunedin, holds the Visa payWave credit card with which he unintentionally paid for groceries at Countdown Andersons Bay. Photo by Peter McIntosh
Brian McKay, of Dunedin, holds the Visa payWave credit card with which he unintentionally paid for groceries at Countdown Andersons Bay. Photo by Peter McIntosh
A credit card inside a wallet, inside a pocket, is settling bills without its owner's knowledge.

Brian McKay, of Dunedin, said he went to pay for his groceries at Countdown Andersons Bay with his debit card on Thursday and the checkout operator told him a card had already paid for it using payWave technology.

The debit card he intended to use had no payWave capabilities but the bill was settled by his Visa payWave credit card, which was inside his wallet and in his other hand.

About two weeks earlier, at BP in Andersons Bay Rd, he went to pay for nearly $80 of petrol with his debit card but the bill was settled by his Visa, which was in his wallet and in his pocket.

Both times, he had the cashier reverse the payments and moved his wallet away to pay with his debit card.

He contacted Visa and asked for the payWave feature to be disabled and was told it was not possible.

Mr McKay wanted Visa to add a verification stage to the payWave process so unintended transactions were impossible.

He said he asked the checkout operator at Countdown Andersons Bay if unintended payWave payments were common and she replied ''all the time''.

''I think we need to be worried,'' Mr McKay said.

A Visa spokeswoman said Visa payWave cards only worked when the card was within 4cm of the card reader but Visa would investigate the incident.

Visa payWave cards were as secure as traditional chip cards and met the same standards for security.

''Since contactless payments were introduced, there has been no increase in card fraud,'' she said.

The Visa payWave cards were backed by Visa's zero liability policy, which protected Visa cardholders from unauthorised purchases.

''We recommend cardholders check their statements regularly and report any unauthorised activity to their bank immediately.''

The Visa website says Visa payWave uses a computer chip embedded in the card to send payment information to a reader at the point of sale.


 I had the same issue

I had the same issue with my credit card being picked up through my wallet and sitting about 10cm away from the EFTPOS machine. I had my EFTPOS card in my hand ready to swipe it and I saw the screen suddenly display "ACCEPTED" without me doing anything. At the time I didn't even know that my credit card had the paywave in it. 

After contacting my bank I too found out that I was forced to have paywave or close my credit card account. As soon as I got home, a sharp knife was all that was required to split the card and cut the antenna. No more paywave but the chip and stripe still work perfectly.

My new EFTPOS card last month came with the same rubbish and the same option; take it or close your account. Strangely enough, that card no longer has paywave either.  Have I missed the ability to make all these fantastic, easy and fast payments (as advertised by both Visa and Mastercard) with just a wave of my card? No. Do I worry at all about making a payment with a card not of my choosing? Most definitely not.

We do not need the government

We do not need the government to keep on looking after us. If my card causes me any problems I will take the scissors to it!

Can your bank lower the pay wave limit?

Call your bank and ask if they can lower the paywave limit to $1, or even 1 cent. If they can, you will have less to worry about because it won't pay for most things.

Disable it!

Google "disable pay wave" and find photos/video of how to do it.

Basic instructions: hold card up to bright light (preferably cold light like neon, not hot lamp), identify internal antenna, mark location with marker pen, drill through antenna with 3mm drill bit, do not cut black stripe or chip in the process.

I assume bank would say "no, do not do that!"

On your head be it if you wreck the other functions of the card in the process.

Pointless and unsecure

And how do you know you haven't paid for someone else's purchase, depending on what it is it maybe when you check their statements they think it was just something that slipped their mind etc . What's to stop a thief stealing the card and running around making purchases less than $80.00 until the owner notices and reports it missing. The so called time saved by this technology is minimal, really 5 buttons, an account and pin number. There needs to be a confirmation stage.

Cut the antenna

I also use an inner slip to shield the card while it's in my wallet.

If you want to go further, there are a number of YT videos explaining how to cut the antenna track that runs over the card so the broadcast / pickup range is drastically reduced.

Simple answer

When our bank sent us a new credit card with this feature I went through multiple channels to try and get it removed. Their response: nope, you have to have it. So, I killed the card in front of their helpful bank staff, and cancelled the credit card account. The bank staff all agreed that it could be removed, but the card companies want more $$. They also mentioned that many customers, like us, were coming in and cancelling their credit card accounts. The banks will eventually learn if you vote with your feet and cancel the thing. We haven't missed it at all.


It would seem to me that anyone who wants the convenience of a credit card is now a prisoner to this technology.  I approached my bank with some concerns as was told more or less to take it or leave it, there is no other option.  This to me is preposterous.  How is it that the banks have this power to force these thing on us.  Where is our government looking after our interests in this?  Surely they can override the banks.

Response from VISA

The response from VISA deliberately misses the point Brian McKay is making. They state that card fraud has not increased since the introduction of this system. 

While Brian McKay managed to reverse the payments on both occasions this has happened, if he had been in a rush, he may not have done so. He may have overlooked transferring money on to the credit card in time, and attracted interest - potentially a nice little earner for VISA.

I have also seen this happen a number of times in the supermarket, and the workers there have said that it is a frequent occurence. And harried customers with a queue building behind them are unlikely to bother reversing the payment - so the cycle begins.


Credit for everyone

Even those you don't know. Of course we need to be worried. The only people not worried are Visa. Having no alternative type of card is disrespectful to the customer but waved off (pun intended) by the organisation. My friend has phoned them up and they told him he has no choice. Like it or leave. If you don't mind a plug here Beggs security sells shielding envelopes for these cards and the new passports which use the same technology! So safe it's a joke. I have a card shield on mine and the only drawback of it is its harder to slip the covered card into your wallet space. 


RFID protected wallets

I recently bought a wallet that has build in RFID sheilding.  At the time, I thought it would be irritating, as I couldn't wave my wallet at locks to get through security doors, or just pop my wallet on the reader on the bus.

Now I see it is a great boon! I've put cards that don't have private information on them (door key, bus card) on an outside pocket on my phone, and all my secure stuff in my un-scannable wallet.


credit card companies

How can we all let our credit card companies know that we don't want this technology?  Surely, if enough people told Visa that this was unwanted, they would provide a "non-payWave" option for their cards?

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