In the not too distant past, the way we handled financial transactions was very different than it is today. Writing checks to pay for purchases was the norm, debit cards were just beginning to become an option, and more people than not simply paid for purchases with cash.Today we have many other options when it comes to payments, and we’re moving more and more toward a cashless world. Debit and credit cards reign supreme, and technology has given us yet another way to handle our money.
Enter the new world of mobile payment apps. When linked to your bank account or credit cards, these apps make payments a breeze, and offer some incredibly easy and hassle-free ways to pay for items. Need to split your dinner check between four people? There’s an app for that.
Unfortunately, not matter how secure you feel while using these apps, the fact remains that there will always be vulnerabilities and risks of data breaches. If you are among the growing number of people who relies on mobile payment apps, here are a few ways to protect yourself and your money.
Passwords are just a fact of life these days, but are you using them correctly? One of the first steps is to make certain that your phone itself can only be accessed with a password, or a thumbprint — if your phone offers that feature. Secondly, when setting up your payment apps consider using password-generator apps as well.
These apps create long and difficult passwords for all of your accounts, and these passwords can only be accessed via a master password that you create. This is a great way to keep your apps secure and to protect your money. Additionally, some apps offer the thumbprint ID feature, so if yours does, make sure to use it.
2. Secure Wi-Fi Connections
When using mobile payment apps it’s likely that you’ll be in a public place such as a restaurant or shopping mall. How are you connecting to the Internet? Are you using your phone’s cellular service or are you connected to public Wi-Fi? Are you certain that the connection is secure?
Be careful when using public Wi-Fi and never access any sensitive personal accounts while on them. It’s usually safer to simply use your data plan when out and about. Too many unscrupulous people can easily hack into public Wi-Fi and see what you’re up to. If you don’t have a large data plan, look into a VPN if you must use unsecure Wi-Fi.
3. Link Apps to Your Credit Card, Always
When setting up your mobile payment apps, it’s always better to link them to your credit card account rather than your checking account or debit card. Credit cards offer much more fraud protection than your bank does, and in the event that your info is compromised, you’ll receive your money back much faster and with far fewer hassles than you would if you were dealing with your bank.
It’s also not a bad idea to get a credit card specifically for your mobile apps, and keep the credit limit low. That way, if you do get hacked, the amount of the money the hackers have access to is limited.
4. Two-Step Authentication
Two-step authentication is a wonderful feature that increases your protection from theft and fraud and some mobile payment apps offer it. This process requires you to not only log in with your password or thumbprint, but to also type in a code that is sent to you via email or text.
While this might seem cumbersome and time consuming, it is one of the best ways to protect yourself from hackers. Unfortunately, not all payment apps yet offer this feature, however most experts agree that, given the inherent security of this feature, we’ll soon see it added to all eventually.
5. What to Do in the Case of a Data Breach
If you fall victim to a data breach, or if you feel that your phone’s security has been compromised, the first thing to do is call your credit company and alert them to any fraudulent charges. Since you’ve linked your apps to your credit card, the company will likely immediately cancel the charges and launch an investigation. If you’ve linked your apps to your bank account the process will be much more lengthy and difficult.
Mobile payment apps are easy to use, but they don’t come without drawbacks. Security risks are out there, so utilize these security tips to protect yourself in the best and easiest ways possible.