Protect Your Mobile Wallet
2012 is the year of mobile payment technology. The ability to pay for things at the swipe of your phone is now a reality, with over 50,000 stores across the UK installing Near Field Communication (NFC) readers. This is the technology that allows consumers to buy goods and services via their smartphones of up to £15 in value, with a £100 limit of preloaded credit at any one time. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and the number of people using mobile payment technology is growing.
But while this presents a multitude of opportunities to businesses, it also carries with it a number of risks to the consumer. Theft and misuse of your phone could see you significantly out of pocket. Whether it’s the actual theft of a phone, or the hacking of information, there will be unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of this latest technology.
IT research firm, Gartner, forecast that the value of global mobile transactions will grow by $245bn (£156bn) by 2014. With this amount of money being processed, there’s a lot at stake. With this is mind, here are a few ways in which you can protect your mobile phone.
Use reputable applications
When it comes to mobile payment applications, all markets are bustling with different apps to choose from. However, it is important that you only choose the most reputable ones. Whilst this may sound obvious, some mobile payment apps will entice users by making claims that simply aren’t true, and there are also the ones that are just out to hack your phone. On the contrary, apps like Barclaycard and Orange’s Quick Tap, and Google Wallet are examples of good, well-known mobile payment services.
Know what you’re doing
There are plenty of different ways in which you can use your mobile phone for banking and making payments. While these services allow you to preload credit onto your phone and make payments in store using NFC readers, there are other services of which you should be aware. For example, Barclays Ping-It allows you to send money directly from your account to someone else’s via a simple text message. Transferring money is one thing, but preloading credit onto your phone and using this to make transactions is another, so be sure you know what’s what.
Install anti-virus software
Without some sort of mobile security, your phone will be vulnerable to hackers. A high number of phones still do not have the appropriate anti-virus software, making them easy targets to malicious activity. To this end, you should also ensure that your anti-virus software is regularly updated, with all the latest virus definitions. With anti-virus software (depending on which software you choose) you’ll be able locate your phone in the event of it being lost or stolen. You will also be able to remotely lock your phone and wipe any sensitive information that has been stored on it, with the option of restoring this data when necessary.
Add a password
Wherever appropriate, it’s necessary to have password protection on your phone. For starters, this needs to be on your front screen to gain access to your operating system. Most smartphones now have this functionality, but it’s not always a default setting, so make sure you switch this on. In addition to this, it’s very important to have passwords set for your applications, most notably your mobile payment application. Look to use different passwords, and be sure to use a combination of numbers and letters to make it stronger.
Regularly check your bank statements
Although it sounds obvious, it really does help to make sure you’re on track and up-to-speed with all of the different activity on your bank account. When you come to set up mobile payment services, you can choose to include all of your phone transactions on one particular card. This will help you to easily identify any unusual activity should your phone be stolen and used.
A sure fire way of making sure that you aren’t out of pocket should anyone steal your phone and spend your preloaded money is to get mobile phone insurance. Not all mobile phone insurance policies have mobile wallet protection, so be sure to look around and read the terms and conditions of your policy. With mobile wallet protection, you have the peace of mind knowing that should anyone steal your phone and spend your money, you have the financial security of being reimbursed.
Duncan Spencer is owner of Insurance2go, one of the first insurers to provide mobile wallet protection