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Group Advises Caution When Making Mobile Payments

Mobile payments using smartphones can be convenient, but consumer advocates say you need to protect against too much information being collected during transactions to avoid identity theft. (DodgertonSkillhouse/morguefile)
Mobile payments using smartphones can be convenient, but consumer advocates say you need to protect against too much information being collected during transactions to avoid identity theft. (DodgertonSkillhouse/morguefile)
March 14, 2016

PHOENIX - Mobile payments for goods and services are becoming increasingly common, but consumer advocates warn that you need to take steps to protect your security and privacy.

Statistics show Arizona is among the top states for identity theft, and the personal information from such transactions can give savvy thieves all they need to hack your bank account. Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy for the Consumer Federation of America, said it's important to know just what information is collected when making a payment with a smartphone or other device.

"In many cases. you may be able to control the personal information that is gathered and shared and used for purposes other than actually completing the payment," she said. "For instance, when you are downloading a mobile-payment app, you want to read the privacy policy."

Grant said smartphones, tablets and other devices contain lots of sensitive information. From mobile payments, she said, thieves can find out account numbers and passwords as well as your location, who you do business with, what you spend and what you buy.

She added that you should closely examine each app you download to make mobile payments and monitor the information it passes on. Grant also said it's important to take steps ahead of time to protect your personal information if you lose your device.

"Lost and stolen mobile devices are a big problem," she said. "You want to have a feature where you can track your device and where you can lock it remotely or even wipe the contents in extreme situations in order to protect yourself."

When there is a problem with a mobile transaction, Grant said, consumer rights can vary widely depending on whether the purchase is made to a credit card, debit card or a bank account. She said there is currently no federal law on payment dispute rights for purchases made with mobile devices.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ