Customers told: Don't let contactless cards out of your sight in bars, restaurants
Consumers have been warned not to let their contactless bank cards out of their sight in bars and restaurants over fears that they could be scammed.
It comes as AIB has decided to wait until the end of the year before charging customers for paying with a contactless card. It was due to impose charges from this month.
Half of consumers now use contactless cards.
They allow people to shop with debit and credit cards without requiring them to enter a PIN number when paying. Users simply swipe their card over a machine.
Usage of contactless cards has shot up after the Government announced in the last Budget that the limit for 'tap-and-go' payments on cards was to be doubled from €15 to €30.
Now consumers have been warned not to hand over the cards to shop or bar staff.
Fears have been expressed that bars and restaurants are putting customers at risk of fraud by asking them to hand over their cards when they pay by 'tap and go'.
The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) said there were no centralised rules around the customer not handing over their card.
"However, it is best practice that it is always in the customer's possession," a spokeswoman said.
In Britain, the UK Cards Association's guidelines state that the card or device should always stay in the customer's hand.
Michael Kilcoyne, of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, said there was a huge risk that people would end up being subject to fraud.
"People should treat the card like cash and not let it out of their sight," he said.
There is some evidence that fraudsters are using contactless card readers to steal details from people using contactless cards to perform transactions in certain online stores.
Researchers with Britain's consumer magazine 'Which?' were able to buy simple contactless card-reading technology and lift key details from a contactless card to order items, including a TV for €3,000.
Another scam involves thieves wandering near people with a point-of-sale device - the same as those used in shops. The thief enters a price lower than €30, taps the device against a person's pockets, and then the consumer is charged. The scam works best in busy shops, packed pubs, sports events and concerts.
To combat this, products such as metal wallets are being marketed to help keep this information safe from scammers.
The BPFI said it was not aware of any instances or complaints here from customers who have been asked to give their contactless cards over to the merchant. But it warned that cardholders should never let the card out of their hands.
"In Ireland, the majority of restaurants and many pubs now use mobile terminals, which means that the cardholder always has their card in their sight, and with contactless transactions the cardholder can easily tap the card, never letting it out of their hand."
AIB was due to introduce charges for using a contactless payment card on August 26. Now it has decided to waive fees until the end of the year to encourage more customers to use the cards.
Bank of Ireland charges customers 1c for using contactless cards, with Permanent TSB and KBC imposing no charge.
Ulster Bank does not have contactless cards. Card company Visa, which processes payments, had no comment.
A recent survey of consumers found 54pc of debit and credit card owners use contactless payment when paying for goods and services. The Amárach research, commissioned by Bank of Ireland, found the average contactless payment is €11.33.
Despite this, 42pc of those surveyed would like to see the €30 limit on contactless payments increased.
The survey found saving time was the biggest advantage.