Shopping online using your smartphone or tablet is easier than ever, but with increased convenience comes the possibility of additional risk. While businesses do everything they can to make mobile shopping secure, ultimately, you’re responsible for protecting your information when shopping online.
Monitoring your credit can help alert you to any unusual activity that could be the work of cybercriminals stealing your information and racking up debt or opening new lines of credit. Learn how to shop safely on a mobile device to help prevent cybercriminals from stealing your private information.
Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks in parks, coffee shops and other public places are great if you want to read the news online or use social media, but these networks can be open books to cybercriminals. Criminals can latch onto your financial or login information when you transmit data online. Most mobile devices are set to access the closest, strongest Wi-Fi signal by default. If you shop on mobile, protect your information by only connecting to password-protected networks. For extra assurance, save your mobile shopping for when you’re on your home connection. This simple change can help prevent one of the most common methods of identity theft.
Don’t Use Apps From Unknown Developers
Be especially careful when deciding which apps to use for your mobile shopping experience. Just because an app is available from your phone’s app store, for example, doesn’t mean its developer is equally trustworthy. Shopping apps can install malware onto your device and transmit credit card and other sensitive financial information to cybercriminals. Only download apps from developers that you know have trustworthy reputations and vet potential apps by reading reviews in the app store.
Disable Bluetooth Connection
The majority of mobile devices come equipped with Bluetooth technology that enables them to share information and synch with other devices such as speakers and other wireless accessories. Unfortunately, this technology can also leave you vulnerable to cybercriminals trying to intercept information on your device. Disabling your Bluetooth when it’s not in use not only saves battery power, but it also helps protect your privacy.
Use a Credit Card, Not a Debit Card
Mobile payment processors make it easy to use a debit card instead of a credit card to pay for purchases, but only credit card purchases are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. This federal law reduces your liability if your credit card information is stolen, but it doesn’t apply to debit cards. Many people have their bank accounts linked, and a compromised debit card can lead to catastrophic loss across multiple accounts.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report
If you do a lot of mobile shopping, request a free annual credit report, or use a credit monitoring service like TransUnion’s to regularly check your credit report. This can be a smart way to check for potentially score-lowering inaccuracies or fraudulent activity.