Friday, July 11th, 2014

Internet Only Debit Cards

I have seen a lot of web pages talking about the dangers of the new debit cards where you just wave the card close to a machine in the store to pay for your purchase. Many of these talk about people using higher powered equipment to enact transactions on your card when the card is in your pocket and they are on the other side of the street. Few talk about the far easier way of having money stolen from your account simply by their having acquired your card – either by stealing it or simply if you misplaced it and they found it. The individual transaction limit may be low but the card can be used to make multiple purchases. Effectively you are carrying a large sum of cash in your pocket which a thief can spend. Admittedly the bank states that they will reimburse any spending on the card in this situation but who knows how long that will take.

I have also seen a number of pages that discuss how to break the antenna in the card without affecting the chip itself so as to disable this particular functionality while still allowing the card to be used via the chip and a PIN. This relies on your being able to work out where the antenna is in your particular card so as to destroy its connections to the chip. If you miss the exact spots where the antenna is then the antenna will still operate and you have damaged the card for nothing – possibly making it impossible to make holes in the right places without damaging the card to the point where it is unusable.

There is a much simpler solution if your bank will allow you to have both an EFTPOS card and a debit card on the same account. In this situation you can quite easily use the EFTPOS card for all your in store purchases by selecting the Savings option instead of Credit. The debit card is then only required for use when you want to make purchases over the internet For internet purchase the supplier never gets anywhere near the card, they just get supplied with the card number and so there is no need to keep the card intact. The simplest solution in this instance is to simply cut a triangular section off of the top left corner of the card with the cut passing through the centre of the chip. This destroys both the chip and the magnetic stripe ensuring that the card can then only be used on the internet. If the bank insists on sending you a PIN for this card you can shred the page without exposing the pIN since it will not work anyway.

so now you have one card that can be used in store but requires a PIN for any purchase at all making it much safer to carry around and a debit card number to use on the internet without any way of using it anywhere else. The only situation where the debit card with the antenna destroyed will work where this simpler combination of two cards will not is with respect to overseas travel where your EFTPOS card would not be accepted for in store purchases but if you are not planning any overseas trips then this two card solution saves you having to work out the location of the antenna. Of course you need to ensure that the bank will let you have two cards first since it will not work if after you destroy the chip and stripe on the debit card the bank disables your EFTPOS card.

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