Mobile Payments and Apple Picking

Keeping Your Money Safe

Times have definitely changed in recent decades, especially when it comes to the way we handle financial transactions. It used to be that cash was king, but now people are looking for the easiest, most convenient way to pay for purchases and other transactions.

The first method that took consumers away from cash was writing a check. For years, checks used to be the standard way of paying bills or paying at the grocery store; however, these days, no one wants to take the risk of taking a check. Then the debit card came along and it was much easier to whip this card out of a purse or wallet than it was to write a check or find an ATM. The newest way to make payments has moved to our mobile devices. Not only can a mobile phone be used for making phone calls and texting, but now more and more establishments are using this technology to accept payments.

Are Mobile Payments Safe?

Mobile payments consist of using a mobile device rather than cash, check, credit card, or debit card to pay for goods or services. The purchaser uses an app on their mobile device, using near-field communication and bar code technology, which is then scanned by a cashier to pay for purchases or services.

There are security issues with using a phone or other mobile device for making a purchase. Most recently, there have been several reports of theft of iPhones in many different cities. These thieves began stealing phones from purses or bags, but they are now nabbing them right from the user’s hands; most often women or kids are targeted. This growing epidemic has been labeled as, “apple picking.”

There are a few ways to avoid “apple picking.” First off, a person should always be aware of their surroundings, especially when distracted by a phone call or texting. Second, and probably the most preventative way to avoid theft of your smartphone, is to use cash to pay for purchases. This alleviates the need for a person to take out their phone from a pocket or purse. So, that old saying, “cash is king” might not be so outdated after all. Using an ATM to withdraw cash before a shopping trip is a great way to play it safe.

Other issues and risks that can arise from making payments from a mobile device include WiFi sniffers, decrypters, and phone cloning. All of these methods give a thief access to bank accounts, debit card and credit card numbers. These technological methods can intercept information passing over a digital network–your information!

With rapidly growing advances in technology and living in a world where we want convenience at our fingertips, a mobile device seems like such a perfect way to quickly make purchases; or is it? Are people becoming that dependent on convenience that they overlook security? It seems we are. With an ATM available at just about every corner on city streets, there is no reason a person couldn’t take a few extra steps, and a few extra minutes to ensure their safety.

When deciding on whether to use your smartphone to make mobile payments or to use a convenient ATM, determine your surroundings and consider nearby density of other smartphone users, technologies, density of area, type of neighborhood and all the other factors to consider when taking out your smartphone or using the in-store ATM.

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