More than 55 million people in the U.S. each year—about a fifth of the population—use mobile payment options, according to eMarketer. They are becoming so commonplace that even the Girl Scouts are accepting mobile payments.
While mobile payments seem like magic, the same technology that makes the experiences so easy also may make it more secure than many people realize says Braden More, Executive Vice President – Head of Partnerships and Industry Relations at Wells Fargo Bank.
Here, More outlines tips that can help make mobile transactions more secure.
Use trusted mobile wallets
“I recommend using an app that is approved by your bank,” says More. “For example, Wells Fargo Bank currently supports five mobile wallets from Apple, Google, FitBit, Garmin, and Samsung.”
Each of these services uses a security feature called tokenization to help keep your account number safe. Rather than giving the merchant your real account number, these wallets send a secondary number combined with encryption features to the merchant. During processing, the message is decoded, making the transfer seamless to both the customer and merchant. “I see this as a bit of magic that should make the systems safer for everyone,” says More. “Plus, if you lose your phone, the plastic card in wallet is still safe and still works.”
Stay vigilant by signing up for alerts
When making card payments, take advantage of automated alerts to help you keep an eye out for any red flags. “By signing up for alerts, you can stay informed when charges occur, empowering you to act immediately if something’s awry,” More says.
Turn off the cards you don’t use
Have lots of cards but don’t use them very often? Consider turning them off. According to More, “Most people have a variety of cards, but don’t have an efficient way to track and control their use. One option offered by Wells Fargo Bank is Control Tower, a feature that allows customers to view recurring payments in one place and to turn cards on or off for improved security.”
Other tips to consider when making mobile payments:
- When you’re not using your device, use the built-in security functions such as the keypad lock to protect your data and privacy.
- Protect your mobile device by setting up a PIN with your mobile carrier so no one else can make changes such as transferring your service to another phone.
- Avoid accessing your financial accounts through public Wi-Fi networks such as coffee shops or airports which can be spoofed or intercepted.
- Don’t store your banking password or other sensitive information on your device or in an app where it could be discovered if your device is stolen.
- While using a different password for every destination is a best practice, it’s especially important to use a truly unique password for your email so that it is not compromised at the same time as another password. If both passwords are compromised, crooks can reset your password via e-mail and take control of your accounts.
More offers this closing perspective: “Overall, technology brings improved convenience and security to our lives. To get the most out it, be proactive and use these tools to protect your assets and feel in control.”