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Seven Tips for Safe Mobile Shopping

By Dennis Jones

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, and more and more of that shopping is happening on mobile devices. In fact, Adobe projects that this holiday season the majority of online shopping visits in the U.S. will happen on mobile devices. Even more impressive: nearly two-thirds of online sales will be made on mobile devices, dispelling the common retail myth that online shoppers only use mobile devices for research, before making their final purchases on laptops.

But although mobile shopping provides greater convenience for consumers, it also invites a litany of security risks. These risks start on the developer side: retail apps, at least initially, are designed to store payment and personal data. While it’s clearly easier not having to retype credit card information time and again, there are significant risks to users in the event that their mobile devices are lost or stolen. So with mobile purchases soaring in popularity, here are some precautions you can take to keep your personal and credit card information safe.

  • Run regular updates on your retails apps, especially when patches are released to fix security holes.
  • Only use credible apps like Venmo, PayPal, and Apple Pay for money exchange.
  • Always review an app’s privacy policy. You’ll learn how the app accesses and shares your personal information.
  • Avoid free Wi-Fi when making mobile purchases. The open nature of public hotspots make them great targets for cyber-attackers, who can create fake access points to gather your private data.
  • Use a strong PIN or passcode on your mobile device. It’ll provide an extra layer of security if your device is lost or stolen.
  • Ignore text or e-mail scams, particularly “Can’t miss this deal!” messages. This might seem like a no-brainer, but scammy messages are trying to phish your personal information.
  • Use credit, not debit. The fraud protections are significantly stronger for credit cards than for debit cards.

Surveys and retail statistics show that the center of consuming gravity is shifting rapidly toward mobile. Mobile shoppers know this well, but so do hackers. So this holiday season, make sure you’re shopping smartly and safely.