If you are one of many who despise carrying a wallet full of payment methods, the emergence of new smartphone apps which now enable customers to pay with their smartphones may be just for you. According to a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the faster smartphone payment process will overtake cash and credit card payments by 2020. Google has developed a mobile wallet app that uses a technology called near-field communication, which allows a phone to communicate wirelessly with a nearby cash register. Starbucks has already been accepting mobile payments though its own barcode app, already processing more than one million transactions per week. Many others are also available, and you can be sure many more won’t be far behind. BBB warns consumers that the dangers of mobile payment can outweigh the convenience and ease if proper usage is not employed.
“Once consumers begin paying with their phones, it will be very difficult to go back to using cash, checks or credit cards”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Keep in mind that any time new technology is added to the device, it increases the risk for something to go wrong.”
BBB provides the following tips to help ensure a safer, more secure transaction when you pay with a smartphone:
- Avoid public networks. If you access account information via a wi-fi hotspot, hackers can access your accounts as well. Only connect to secure wireless networks when conducting important transactions.
- Look out for fake apps.Use caution when downloading phone apps. Malicious apps are often disguised as legitimate, and without security software, it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. A malicious app is dangerous because it can steal all the data from your smartphone or tablet and send out spam. Or, even worse, it can monitor everything you do and capture all your usernames and passwords.With the recent increase in mobile malware and viruses, it’s imperative to ensure that application publishers are authorized by official financial organizations.
- Keep devices secure.Always check the security settings in your device to ensure maximum protection. Recent research has shown that 54% of smartphone users in the US do not set up password security. If a phone is lost, stolen or left unattended, anyone who picks it up will have unrestricted access. It’s important to always lock mobile phones and change passcodes frequently. Use strong passwords containing a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Check for updates. Periodically check on your service provider’s website for your phone’s make and model.
- Download a mobile security product.Security software can help you avoid many of the potential dangers associated with smartphones. Along with offering the standard malware, spam and firewall protection, this software can help control your phone should it find its way in the wrong hands. This is particularly crucial for Android users, as Androids and Windows based devices tend to be more vulnerable to attacks.
Go to www.bbb.org for more advice on protecting personal information. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.