Shopping with Your Smartphone – How to Be Safe On Your Phone or Using Mobile Wallets
Consumers who are wondering if it’s safe to shop from a smartphone are concerned about the security of storing payment information and the safety of using mobile wallets at retailers. A primary concern is that paying with a phone could lead to fraud.
Shopping from a phone or using a mobile wallet to conveniently tap against the checkout card reader instead of digging for a physical credit or debit card is secure when you follow a few cybersecurity best practices. Presenting a physical card in a store or entering card numbers online can leave a card vulnerable to hackers.
Only about 20% of shoppers pay with a digital wallet as of May 2019. US consumers have been a slow adopter of mobile payments.
People use their phones in stores for more than just paying according. About 43 percent of shoppers are looking for product information and to compare prices. While others are searching for discounts, reviews, or loyalty rewards. Shoppers may even complete a purchase online while in a retail store if it is cheaper or more convenient.
The average shopper who purchases on their smartphone was likely to have found the product on their phone initially. The opposite holds true as well. People who shopped in stores were most likely to initially discover the item in a brick-and-mortar store.
Is Paying with Your Phone Safe?
Just under half of consumers have payment information stored in a mobile wallet on their phones as of the first quarter of 2019. But only 5.7 percent of consumers pay in stores using a mobile digital wallet while 38.9 percent of shoppers still pay using a credit card. Some 38.7 percent pay for purchases using a debit card. The numbers are about the same for food purchases.
Is it Safe to Use a Credit Card on a Smartphone?
It is safe to use a credit card on a smartphone as long as the WiFi connection is secure unlike the internet available in coffee shops and retail stores. If you need to buy right away, make sure you use a VPN to protect your payment information and the personal data on your phone.
A good antivirus app will also help keep your phone protected from being infected with malware.
Plus Free Shipping!
Is It Safe to Pay With a Mobile Wallet?
Mobile wallets are generalyl safe. Any mobile payment wallet offered by well-known providers like Apple Wallet, Google Pay, or PayPal, is more secure than using physical payment cards. PayPal is the most commonly used mobile wallet, used by 61.8% of the who use mobile wallets.
Mobile wallets store credit cards and debit cards securely using encryption. Mobile wallet services use randomly generated payment tokens, so your credit card numbers are not exposed to the merchant when you make a purchase. Even the wallet providers cannot see your payment information.
To ensure your payment cards and money are safe, always load new credit card and debit cards into your mobile wallet while you’re at home and on your own secure internet connection. Of course, your home internet connection should already be secured with a password and restricted to only those people that your trust. If you need to change or edit a payment card on your mobile wallet while you’re away from your home WiFi then use a virtual private network VPN to protect your data.
Can Apple Pay Be Hacked?
Although many think Apple devices are hacker-proof, Apple Pay can indeed be hacked it was proven that the Apple Pay payment token could be intercepted using a malicious Wi-Fi hotspot.
Is Google Pay Safer Than a Cedit Card?
Using a mobile wallet like Google Pay is safer than using a physical credit card or debit card to pay. And all three options certainly offer more consumer protections that paying with cash. Obviously, cash can be stolen, but not hacked. But using a mobile wallet is not hacker proof either.
With Google Pay, your payment card numbers and information are encrypted and stored in the cloud. Users can store multiple payment methods like credit cards and debit cards in their wallet and choose which one they want to use as they shop.
Shopping with Your Smartphone – How to Be Safe
When shopping with your smartphone consumers can take a few steps to protect their phone and the information stored on it.
Use a password or some other form of two-factor authentication to protect your phone in case it’s lost or stolen. Even if you don’t have a mobile wallet or credit card stored on it, your phone contains a wealth of personal information including photos, contacts, banking information, and social media logins.
Shop on Verified Websites or Use an Official App
Consumers should always shop on websites you trust or use a store’s official app. Verify that the website is who they say they are. This is easier with major retailers like Amazon, eBay or Macys but there are lots of other smaller stores to be concerned about.
Be sure that the website contains business contact information including how to handle disputes or other problems with your order. If a retailer offers an app for shopping, only download the shopping app from the official Google Play or Apple Store. Apps downloaded from outside official app stores are more likely to have malware.
Check for HTTPS Website Security
Make sure the website you’re shopping has HTTP in the browser, meaning it uses encryption to protect your money. This applies to all websites including major retailers.
Security certificates ensure that your personal information and credit cards are encrypted while the information is being transmitted from your phone to the retailer’s servers.
All security certificates have expiration dates. Sometimes a retail website allows the certificate to expire. If this is the case, you’ll see an error message near the website address. Don’t shop if there is no secure certificate or if it’s expired.
Install an Antivirus App on Your Phone
Malware on your smartphone or any device is a real concern. Malware can get onto your phone when you download games and apps outside the Google Play or Apple store. Hackers can also inject malware onto your phone when you are using public WiFi connections.
Install a quality and well-known antivirus app on your phone. Many believe that smartphones cannot be infected with malware and viruses. Although they are more protected than laptops and desktop computers, smartphones are increasingly becoming targets of malware, ransomware, viruses, and spyware. Smartphones contain a wealth of data including account logins, apps, social media credentials, and biometric data.
Use equality antivirus app to protect your phone and your money
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Use two-factor authentication called 2FS to protect the information on your phone. This means that anyone accessing the phone go through an extra step. Common to 2FA requirements include responding to an email, entering a PIN, or responding to a text message. Smartphone users can also use biometric information like fingerprint scans and facial recognition as two-factor authentication.
Using 2FA helps protect your phone and your money if your phone is ever lost or stolen.
Shop Using Secure WiFi
Don’t use non-secure shared public WiFi like that found in coffee shops, retail stores, hotels, or an airport.
Always using secure WiFi can protect your mobile wallet from thieves. You should always use secure WiFi connection for everything you do on your phone, not just shopping, when you’re out in public. Browsing social media, comparing prices online, sending emails, and shopping can all be intercepted by hackers.
Public WiFi connections are not secure. Any shared connection offers an opportunity for hackers to intercept payment information on your phone. Hackers can also use non-secure public Wi-Fi connections to infect your phone with malware.
Use a VPN
A virtual private Network or VPN is an app that used on your smartphone that encrypts the information transmitted to and from your phone. A VPN is extremely useful if you must use a non-secure public WiFi connection.
If you going to shop from your smartphone from within a store, coffee shop, or any other public WiFi connection, a VPN will protect your personal data and your payment information.
Although there are many free VPN apps available, they come with data limits. If you plan on watching videos you may easily max out the data cap on a free VPN.
Paid VPN subscriptions can route your traffic through more servers using a range of countries. Which further protects your information. VPN services usually only cost about $4 per month.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers