Digital payments such as mobile wallets and mobile payment cards are convenient for the hustle and bustle of life. Since they are also contact-free, you can feel safer during the pandemic. However, although easier, be aware digital payments carry security risks as well. These risks come from the possibility of a hack into your personal digital information so you must know how to protect yourself to prevent this from happening. Below, some members of the Forbes Technology Council share their best tips on keeping your online payment information safe.
From credit cards to mobile wallets to everything in between, digital payments are a convenient (and increasingly popular) option for many consumers. However, digital payments also carry the risk of data breaches and other security risks, meaning consumers must take extra precautions to protect themselves.
We asked the members of the Forbes Technology Council to share their best advice for consumers looking to stay safe while using digital payment methods. Below, they share 14 security measures you should take.
1. Regularly check your financial statements.
A lot of consumers fail at the most basic security measure for digital payments, which is to check your statements. If you do this regularly, you’ll spot any inconsistencies. If you don’t recognize a charge, immediately question and/or dispute it. Of course, this is a basic practice, but if you don’t do it, many other practices become pointless. – Russell Smith, Rainforest QA, Inc.
2. Turn on two-factor authentication.
With hacking attacks on the rise, consumers should turn on SMS-based two-factor authentication to protect account takeovers that can lead to payment fraud. Even if a user’s original password is leaked or stolen, only the user receives the one-time password code via SMS that’s needed to log in to a digital payment app or site. This measure protects accounts from unauthorized access. – Andrea Giacomini, Mitto
3. Verify your payment recipient.
One simple but crucial operational security measure that everyone needs to practice with digital payments is recipient verification. Many digital payment systems lack the checks and balances we’re used to with more traditional payments. If you send money to the wrong address/person it can be lost forever. Try having the recipient send you a request for payment to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. – Chris Grundemann, Myriad360
4. Have a dedicated payment method for online transactions.
The best security measure is to keep a tab on what transactions you have conducted. To do this easily, use only one credit card or payment method for all online transactions, and do not use that card or payment method for anything else. Make sure you have fraud insurance on that card and check your statements against the online shopping you have done. You can then find irregularities easily. – Afshin Doust, Advanced Intelligent Systems Inc.
5. Use biometric authentication when possible.
Ensure a secure authentication method is chosen. If the authentication method is based solely on convenience, then it’s likely convenient to thieves too (e.g., not requiring a pin for credit card transactions). Use a biometric when possible, as this authentication method requires something unique to each person and reduces the chances of stolen credit cards or phones being useful to thieves. – Jay Marshall, Eyelock LLC
6. Double-check QR codes.
Before scanning a QR code—especially one on printed material in a public place—make sure it hasn’t been pasted over with a different (and potentially malicious) code. Hackers can easily replace a legitimate QR code used for payment (at a point of sale, ATM, parking meter, etc.) with a malicious QR code that will expose your banking or financial account information when scanned. – Simon Biddiscombe, MobileIron
7. Take advantage of one-time passwords.
As I am traveling to India right now, I understand the value of one-time passwords. It was annoying earlier but it is a security factor we all need to adhere to. Our security matters when one-two-three-step authentication is implemented. We need to live with it for our security. – Bhavna Juneja, Infinity, a Stamford Technology Company
8. Be cautious with linked checking accounts.
Consumers are generally well-protected from fraud liability when using linked credit card accounts, but the same is not always true of linked checking accounts. When using checking account-linked services, consumers can protect themselves from losses by linking to a secondary account that maintains a lower balance. Then, just transfer to and from a core account to consolidate funds. – Ron Cogburn, Exela Technologies
9. Ensure your vendor is PCI DSS-compliant.
Make sure that your vendor is PCI DSS-compliant—and the higher the level of their certification, the better. With security standards developing, it is important that the vendor of your choosing follows all the trends and not only gets but maintains cybersecurity certificates year after year. The bottom line for consumers is to always check what security measures your vendor is taking before paying. – Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.
10. Don’t reuse passwords.
New breaches happen a lot, and stolen credentials often show up in underground markets. Once a criminal acquires stolen data, they could potentially access any other accounts protected by the same username and password. Stop reusing passwords and monitor your credentials for exposure with one of the free tools that will check them against a continuously updated collection of breached data. – David Endler, SpyCloud
11. Only use apps you trust.
As digital payments become mainstream, it is important to use trusted apps. In addition, consider enabling transaction notifications and security features. I would even go a step further and enable notifications for any cards associated with the app so you can cross-reference transactions. There are instances where folks opt for convenience rather than security and end up paying a steep price. – Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero
12. Never use a debit card.
You should always use a credit card for any transaction so that you are not exposing your bank details directly to any point of sale. Credit card companies insure your money; hence, if you have a problem, you can get your money back with ease. If you get a fraudulent charge on your debit card, it can take up to 60 days to get your money back from your bank. – Giuliano Senese, DX Medical Solutions B.V.
13. Submit minimal personal information.
Submit only the absolute minimum of personal information. If overly invasive and unnecessary details are being asked for, think twice. The financial risk is generally covered by banks or other financial institutions, but identity theft protection is left up to the individual. – Vaclav Vincalek, Future Infinitive
14. Look for SSL encryption.
One simple security measure every consumer can take while using a payment method online is to check if the payment page is https-based (i.e., it uses SSL to encrypt the transaction). This can be instantly done by checking the beginning of the URL or Web address of the payment page, which should show “https://” or a lock icon. – Ahmad (Al) Fares, Celitech Inc.