80% of retailers take payment card details by phone in unsecure ways

Over a third of people have heard friends, colleagues and even strangers sharing their full credit and debit card details in public while on the phone. Some people may be forgiven for trusting their friends and colleagues to not share this sensitive information, however the same can't necessarily be said for complete strangers.

A poll conducted by payment security specialists Eckoh found that four out of five retailers and call centres that take payment by phone do so in an unsecure way, putting tens of millions of customer payment card details and at risk for fraud or sale on the black market if the data falls into the wrong hands.

Over half of respondents (54 percent) reported that the office was the most common place for people to overhear personal financial details. Meanwhile, nearly a fifth of people heard people offering their card details on public transport, one in ten (nine percent) overheard similar data being shared in restaurants, and seven percent heard it in the street.

“My office has big echoey corridors and one of the people in the adjoining office regularly shops by phone outside our office. We jokingly nicknamed her 4921 556, etc, because me and my colleagues found it impossible not to memorise her card details,” said Jeremy Duncan, a designer who works in a shared office space in central London. “We've explained the risk to her since and suggested that she change her details.”

Three-quarters (68 percent) of respondents said that they read out their card details on the phone within the last year, failing to check the security of the line.

“It's easy to forget the significance of the data you share over the telephone. In some cases, that information isn't only being shared by the person on the other end of the phone, but with anyone who happens to be within earshot. Caution is always to be advised when it comes to handling data,” says Tony Porter, head of global communications at Eckoh.