When it comes to protecting your identity and your finances, you are right to wonder if you’re taking all necessary precautions—especially when it comes to your mobile device. A 2019 Identity Fraud Study showed that account takeover is on the rise, and particularly mobile account takeover. This happens when a fraudster hacks into your mobile phone to access your accounts, usually with the intention of stealing your credit card information and other personal data.
With this kind of risk out there, you may be wondering if payment solutions like Apple Pay are safe. This is a good question to ask, but you should rest assured that Apple and other tech giants with mobile payment solutions go the extra mile to ensure your transactions are safe.
Keep reading to learn about the safety features offered by Apple Pay, and why using a mobile wallet could be safer than paying with your credit card.
What is Apple Pay?
If you don’t have Apple Pay already, you may be wondering how it works. Apple Pay is a mobile payment system, similar to Samsung Pay or Google Pay, with the main difference being that it’s specifically for people who use Apple devices. If you have an iPhone or an Apple Watch, for example, you can download Apple Pay and use it to make contactless, secure purchases when you shop in stores, in apps and on the web.
Apple Pay also lets you transfer money to and from other Apple Pay users using Messages, which can help make managing your money and splitting bills a whole lot easier. This also helps Apple Pay compete with other mobile payment systems that allow person-to-person transfers, such as Venmo and PayPal.
Apple Pay doesn’t store your credit card details, nor does it retain any transaction information that can be tied to the consumer. Instead, it creates a unique token each time you use it, and your transaction details stay between you, the merchant you’re purchasing from and your bank or credit card issuer.
Apple Pay security features
According to Apple, Apple Pay was created with built-in features that protect your transactions, but users can access additional security measures to keep their information secure. These include a pass code on your device that prevents a random person from picking it up and accessing your information or making a purchase. Apple Pay also comes with Face ID or Touch ID, both of which are optional. Face ID uses your actual face to unlock your device, while Touch ID relies on your fingerprints to confirm your identity.
When you add a credit card, debit card or prepaid card to Apple Pay, the account details you enter are never stored on your phone. Instead, they are “encrypted and sent to Apple servers,” notes Apple. This is true whether you enter your card details manually, or whether you use your device’s camera to upload the information.
Once your card is approved through the app, a device-specific number is created for you by your bank or your bank’s service provider and that information is also encrypted and sent along with other data to Apple. Once again, this device-specific information cannot be decrypted by Apple but is stored in a chip on your device instead.
Apple Pay could be safer than paying with a credit card
If you are leery of using a mobile wallet to pay for your transactions, you may be surprised to know that mobile wallets are typically safer than physical credit cards. There are quite a few instances where this can be the case.
Credit cards are easier to steal
For starters, Apple Pay requires another level of security before you can use it. You have to enter a pass code on your phone, and you can also use face or fingerprint technology to make Apple Pay as impenetrable as possible.
With a credit card, on the other hand, a scammer only needs to get a handle of your credit card or your card number to attempt to make fraudulent purchases.
Apple Pay cannot be ‘skimmed’
We’ve all read about credit card skimmers placed at gas stations and ATMs, which steal your account details and share them with people who use or sell your information for their own benefit. Since mobile wallets do not require you to dip your card into a terminal or slide your card into a card reader, your account information cannot be stolen in this manner.
Apple Pay does not store your credit card number
Apple Pay uses several layers of encryption to protect your information and they do not store your full account number. This means a fraudster cannot access your credit card number using Apple Pay—even if they were somehow able to access your account or an Apple Server (which is almost impossible).
You can make Apple Pay even more secure
Apple Pay has a range of security features built in, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a role to play when it comes to keeping your information safe. The following tips can make Apple Pay even more safe and secure, so keep them in mind if you’re an iPhone user and you decide to start using this mobile payment solution.
Choose your pass code wisely
Apple lets the user choose a pass code for their device, but you should make sure your code would be difficult to guess. Stay away from obvious options like 1-2-3-4-5 or 5-5-5-5-5 for starters, and don’t choose a pass code that is correlated with a phone number or address you use.
Keep your pass code secret
Don’t tell family members or friends what your pass code is, and if you write it down, keep this private information somewhere safe and secure.
Add Face ID or Touch ID
Take advantage of additional security features that let you protect your device with face recognition or fingerprint recognition software. Doing so ensures that only you will be able to use your device and access Apple Pay.
Set up the ‘Find My Phone’ feature
Set up “Find My Phone” on your iPhone so that you can locate it quickly if it’s lost or stolen. You can also use this feature to disable your device, remove all your personal information and set everything back to factory settings.
Use a secure Wi-Fi network
Make sure you use a password-protected internet network when you enter your card information into Apple Pay. This will help you avoid hackers who may survey public Wi-Fi networks to check for personal information they can use for nefarious purposes.