Is It A Phone or a Credit Card?
August 8, 2012
Jackie here, with AllClear ID. Did you know that it may be possible to pay for items using your mobile phones? Mobile payment are becoming increasingly popular and their prevalence is only expected to increase in the coming months and years.
There are several different types of mobile payment options available, each with their own identity theft risks. Let’s take a look at a few:
Mobile Phones with RFID or NFC Technology- Today’s phones can easily be equipped with a chip that can wirelessly transmit your credit card number to a retailer – if they have the right technology. Currently, only about 10% of retailers are making use of this technology, but as prices come down, this could become more common. There are concerns that this type of payment method may not be secure, but manufacturers of this technology believe it may be more secure than credit cards since phones can be shut down remotely if they are stolen. More info on this topic available on USAToday.
Adding Charges to Phone Bills- Another method for making mobile payments involves adding charges directly to a phone bill. You may have seen this in action when buying a ringtone or game through your phone. The charges are automatically added to your bill and you pay directly to your phone provider when your bill comes due. One identity theft concern with this practice is known as “cramming”. It isn’t anything new, but has become a cause for concern again in recent months.
“Cramming” is the practice of adding fraudulent charges to your phone bill. These charges are often small to avoid detection and may look like they belong on your bill. The best way to combat them is to pay attention. Watch for suspicious charges on your phone bill and report them to your phone company should any occur. Some phone providers allow you to opt-out of third party charges so these will never appear on your phone bill. Learn more about this practice on the US Department of Justice Blog.
Other Mobile Payment Options- Other mobile payment options are becoming increasingly available. Phones may be able to store copies of credit information and credit card scanners are available for smart phones. Companies like PayPal are also getting on the game offering consumers the option to pay using their accounts at checkout at brick-and-mortar retailers. We will probably see many new payment methods available in the next few years.
The best way to keep on top of the new options available is to pay attention. Examine your credit card statements carefully. Don’t forget to check your phone bill for suspicious charges. Being aware is one of the best ways to prevent id theft and catch it early on if there is a problem.