Most of us feel safe ordering everything from clothes to books and even food delivery via computer. In fact, TIME Magazine published a story June of last year exclaiming how comfortable we are ordering pizza online, now. But when it comes to shopping via mobile device, many people are overly cautious while other’s aren’t nearly cautious enough!
The simple truth is that shopping from a smartphone or tablet isn’t generally very safe–at least, not the way most people do it. Fortunately, there are a few simple precautions that you can take to ensure your finances stay safe when you use your mobile device.
1. Use Your Mobile Apps–Not Your Web Browser
Most major and many smaller ecommerce sites have their own mobile application to not only help you find what you want, but to allow you to buy what you want securely. The best way to keep your information secure is to only purchase through a mobile application (as opposed to a live website) every time you pay for something via mobile device.
This may sound extreme, but there is a method behind the reasoning. The simple fact is that web browsers just aren’t as secure as mobile applications. The risk doubles if you’re using a public WiFi hotspot.
If you’re set up in a coffee shop, using WiFi, T-Mobile’s 4G coverage map or your carrier’s 3G network to order that luxury watch you’ve always wanted, just be sure to use an app, and buy from trusted vendors only.
Using a mobile app also provides safety from keyloggers, viruses, and other malicious software that can invade your privacy and record your logins (yes, this type of software exists for mobile devices too!).
What’s that? You say your favorite online shopping spot doesn’t have its own mobile app? It will soon enough. Until that time, protect yourself by shopping only when on your secure, password-protected home network.
2. Make Sure You’re Using the Best App for the Job
In other words, never download or use a third-party application for your mobile device-based shopping. Instead, you should always obtain the appropriate app directly from the Google Play Store or Apple Apps.
Keep in mind that the occasional rogue app does sneak into these stores at times. It happens with Google Play more often than with Apple. In either case, verify the publisher of the application before you download it. If it doesn’t match up with the online store’s business name or parent company, contact the site’s customer support before you download the app.
3. Lock Your Device
Crazy Egg blog recently published a post on some very innovative mobile solutions for e-commerce that’s worth checking out. Whether your applications store your payment information on the device or on your favorite merchant’s servers, most ecommerce mobile apps allow anyone to make a purchase by simply tapping your device’s screen.
Unfortunately, this also means that anyone who somehow gets their hand on your device can tank your bank account in a single afternoon! Mobile devices get lost. Especially phones. It’s just a fact of life, and while most people are honest enough to hand your phone in to the nearest lost and found, not everybody is. So it’s essential that you passcode-protect your device.
With Apple devices, this means a password, four-digit code, or even your fingerprint. Android users can choose between a password and a customized trace pattern. In either case, the most important thing is that you secure your device against intrusion. Add a passcode feature–and make your device require it for every use.
Shop via mobile app instead of directly on the web. Avoid shopping via public wireless networks when possible. Make sure you’re using a safe, authorized application directly from the Apple or Google app store. Always keep your device security locked.
As long as you follow these three security measures, you’ll be 1,000% safer with your mobile shopping than you were before.