Most consumers now pay for retail transactions without cash. Consumers are instead opting to use quicker and more convenient payment methods like electronic (credit and debit) and digital (mobile payment apps).
Unfortunately, using electronic and digital payment methods give hackers and identity thieves a direct line to consumer banking information. In fact, there have been several high-profile cases where hackers were able to compromise the payment systems of major retailers (like Target).
That put millions of customers at risk of having their bank accounts drained and identity stolen. That's why consumers must take steps to secure their electronic and digital payment methods.
Many institutions have replaced their old debit and credit cards with more secure chip cards. Using a chip card takes longer than swiping your card at a cash register.
However, chip cards offer you a safer way to pay for purchases in stores, because they encrypt your financial data. Encrypting your financial data makes it more difficult for hackers to steal your banking information. Therefore, if you don't have a chip card yet, contact your financial institution.
Even though chip cards are more secure at the cash register, your financial data could still be stolen - by other methods. High-tech identity thieves can create devices that scan an area and seize the financial data stored on chip cards in that area.
That means if you carry your credit and debit cards in a wallet or purse, your financial data is at risk of getting stolen. Therefore, you should keep your cards in an RFID protector. The RFID protector is usually a small sleeve or cover that protects your cards from being scanned by hackers. RFID protectors are inexpensive and sold at many retailers, so there is no excuse not to secure your chip cards in them.
Mobile payment apps are another convenient and popular payment method for consumers. Unfortunately, since mobile payment apps connect to your banking information, using them puts your financial data at risk as well.
Before using a digital payment method on your smartphone, make sure you have anti-virus and malware security software to protect you. The most common way identity thieves steal digital payment information is from malware apps. Therefore, scan all apps before installing them on your smartphone to avoid malware.
You must stay vigilant when it comes to watching your financial information. Regularly check your banking and credit card accounts for suspicious activities. If you think your financial information has become compromised, contact your financial institution about setting up a fraud alert. You can also place fraud alerts on your credit report by contacting the three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Finally, you might not catch every suspicious transaction or attempt to steal your identity. Therefore, you can sign up for an account monitoring service that will watch your banking transactions and safeguard your identity.
You can also set up for text or email alerts that will ask you to confirm sales, new accounts, and credit-check inquiries. That way you can stop identity thieves before they steal your identity. You can learn more about account monitoring services online.
In short, there is no way to guarantee that your identity won't get stolen from using electronic and digital payment methods. However, there are ways you can cut your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Make sure that all of your credit and debit cards are chip cards. Using a chip card will keep your banking information encrypted - making it difficult for hackers to steal.
Furthermore, safeguard your chip cards inside RFID protectors. Don't use mobile payment apps unless you have security software on your smartphone. Also, watch your bank accounts for fraudulent activity. If you want an extra level of security, use an account monitoring service to protect your identity.
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