Long before the dawn of smartphones, cash and credit cards were the only ways that we could pay for our purchases.
Fast forward to today, smartphones can now be used to accomplish a lot, and that includes shopping and making payments online.
With Android Pay and Apple Pay, you can shop safely whenever and wherever the merchant can support it.
To complete payment through a mobile device, you need to hold it close to a point-of-sale terminal that reads your payment details. The entire mobile payment technology simplifies the process of customers paying merchants.
Most online users prefer using their mobile phones to shop because of the convenience these devices provide. But it’s easy to let convenience overshadow security.
A hacker can effortlessly access your banking and personal information if you are using a compromised mobile site or app. The possibility of this happening increases if you use an infected mobile device.
To ensure you don’t become a victim, here are tips you can follow to ensure you stay safe while making mobile payments.
1. Download Apps From Official Sources Only
If you’re using an Android device, download your apps from Google Play Store, and if you’re using an Apple device, get your apps from the Apple Store.
A friend may offer to share with you an app that isn’t necessary from any of these stores. Whether the app lets you download coffee directly or makes money for you without your participation, it’s important to ensure all apps come from trusted sources.
In particular, mobile payment apps must be downloaded from these two official stores as apps must meet certain security criteria before being placed on these stores. If you find a similar app on another site, you aren’t guaranteed of security while using it.
2. Protect Your Phone With A Strong Password
First, don’t carry an unlocked phone.
Without any password or security protection, a thief can easily access your phone and steal any stored financial and personal information.
Therefore, the only way to protect your phone and the data in it is to use a strong password. Ensure the password is something much stronger than “password” or “1234.”
Also, don’t ignore additional security features commonly found on the latest smartphones.
They include iris scan, fingerprint unlock, or facial recognition. These features can be more secure than the traditional PIN or password.
3. Avoid Sending Sensitive Information While On Public Wi-Fi
Any information sent through public Wi-Fi can be accessed by anyone accessing the Wi-Fi and knows how to go about it. Therefore, someone can intercept your payment details if you’re using the phone to purchase something online.
To stay safe, use your home’s password secured Wi-Fi or the phone carrier’s cellular network.
4. Use A Credit Card
Typically, a credit card has better fraud protection than a debit card.
Most credit cards come with a zero fraud liability policy, which eliminates the risk for unauthorized charges made to the credit card account. Debit cards, on the other hand, have the possibility of making you liable for money stolen from your account.
While the bank may clear up any fraud charges, you don’t want to keep waiting for them to sort it. T
herefore, if someone accesses your banking information, it’s better if a credit card was at risk than a debit card.
5. Review App Permissions Before Installing It
This is where most of us fail.
When installing an app, we assume we have to click ‘ok’ to everything to complete the installation. Most free apps require users to pay through their privacy, and this is usually seen through the permissions an app requests during installation.
Carefully read the permissions before installing it, and if you think the mobile payment application is asking to access sensitive information than necessary, don’t install it. If you doubt the permissions, contact the developer of the app via Twitter.
6. Don’t Visit A Shopping Website After Clicking On A link Email-ed To You
Cybercriminals work overtime to trick online users into allowing them to access the users’ personal or financial information. One way in which they achieve this is by sending a link via email or even text message.
Most of these links don’t look suspicious at first, but the truth is they contain harmful malware, which will be installed on your mobile device as soon as you click on the link. Using the malware, the criminals can steal the personal and financial information on a shopping site and use it to wipe your bank account clean.
Before shopping online, it pays to follow the tips above to ensure you’re protected from prying eyes out there.
When you watch your account, you’ll be able to detect suspicious charges faster. You should report unauthorized charges to the issuer of your credit card.
If you suspect compromise of your credit card information, you can be given a brand new account number and avoid possible extra fraudulent charges.