May Tips

Should You Move Your Wallet to Your Phone?

Apple Pay was released in 2014 and promised to revolutionize global commerce as we know it. It did not. At least, not right away. The technology behind Apple Pay wasn’t new, but Apple introduced its branded version of mobile payments to millions of people who had never heard of them before.

Apple’s credibility allowed Apple Pay to survive a slow beginning. Merchants and banks were reluctant to jump on board in the beginning, but, as customer demand for mobile payments increased, they began to embrace the new payment method. Soon, others began rolling out their versions of this new, secure, convenient way to pay for goods and services. Joining Apple Pay is Google Pay (previously Android Pay), Samsung Pay, Venmo, Zelle and many others

Just four years after Apple Pay was launched, mobile payments have surpassed cash as the preferred payment method in the United States, and they’re expected to overtake credit card purchases by the end of next year. Surprisingly, it’s not millennials just skewing the numbers:

Your Phone Is Now Your Wallet

The increase in popularity of mobile payments is due mostly to ever-improving mobile phone technology. Your phone, Apple or Android, almost certainly has mobile wallet technology built in. Both Apple and Google have worked hard to make setting up your mobile wallet as simple and secure as possible. All you need to do is link a credit card or bank account to your wallet, prove you’re who you say you are, get confirmation from your bank and you’re good to go. Adoption of mobile wallets is quickly increasing, as is the number of retailers accepting mobile payments.

Mobile wallets allow you to make in-store purchases without cash, checks or credit cards. Simply unlock your phone, hold your phone up to the terminal and you’re done. The terminals use a technology called near-field communication (NFC), which allows your phone to share a small, one-time-use encrypted piece of data with the checkout terminal. Your credit or debit card number is never shared or exposed in any way during the transaction.

Mobile Payments and Your Bank Account

Leading the rise in mobile payment popularity is banking. By 2016, 47 percent of Americans had used their mobile phones to pay a bill, deposit a check or transfer money.

Banks recognize the opportunity to empower their customers, so they continue to expand the services available on mobile devices. Many banks now allow you to deposit a check, transfer money between accounts, convert currency, pay bills and chat with customer service from your mobile phone. We’re rapidly moving toward the day when almost all services provided at your local bank branch can be taken care of on your phone.

Banks have embraced a new service called Zelle, an online service that lets you instantly send money to virtually anyone with a bank account. More than 90 banks and credit unions, including US Bank, Capital One, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have partnered with Zelle to allow their customers to send money with the Zelle mobile app. Last year, when US Bank began offering Zelle, online payments increased 300 percent within the first 30 days.

What’s the Downside?

There is still resistance to adopting the new mobile payment services. People are concerned about being hacked. Information security has been the biggest hurdle in adopting mobile payment technology. Many people are uncomfortable keeping such sensitive financial information on a device that could easily be lost or stolen. Consumers expect their banks to keep their money safe, and banks are always working to increase security for online transactions.

The results of these efforts are encouraging, though. Even smartphone manufacturers have stepped up the security technology on their phones. Many now have biometric security with fingerprint and facial recognition. You can find your lost phone with precise accuracy. You can have your phone take a picture of the person with your phone and automatically send it to you. You can even remotely incapacitate your phone if you suspect it’s been stolen.

Digital transactions are safer than they’ve ever been, and much safer than credit cards. But “safer” isn’t the same as “completely safe.” There will always be some risk when your personal information is converted into little bits of data and sent through cyberspace.

Embrace the Technology — Carefully

According to a survey by Consumer Reports, 34 percent of people took no security measures at all to protect their smartphones. Here are some safety tips for using mobile payment technology:

We have an old saying here in Nebraska: “Trust your neighbors, but brand your cattle.” It perfectly applies when you’re considering whether to start using mobile payments.

Mobile payments are here to stay. Phones are becoming an increasingly indispensable part of our daily lives as they consistently become faster and more secure. Banks are always working to keep your data safe and secure. Mobile payments can be a safe, fast, convenient way to make online transactions. So, give them a try. But brand your cattle.

Security Tip Full Article

Wait! Don’t Share That!

You could be giving the bad guys useful information, and you may not even realize it — or understand the implications. The culprit of this information leak is something you might be using every day: social media.

Consider What You’re Sharing

Social media is great. You can interact with long-lost friends and distant family, not to mention your business network. Women often include their maiden names in their profiles so old friends can find them more easily. Maybe your mother’s account is set up the same way. And of course you identified her as your mom. Maybe you also identified your aunt, cousins, kids, etc., as relatives. Why wouldn’t you?

Have you taken one of those fun surveys that ask to share your personal information? Great! Now everyone knows your favorite place to shop, vacation destination and restaurant. Your profile might even reveal your favorite teacher’s name, the street you grew up on, your first telephone number, your favorite color, and your dog’s name. Don’t forget to cheer on your favorite sports team and show your team spirit frequently. And be sure to post about your excitement before boarding a flight to your awesome vacation — and tag yourself when you get there!

Are you beginning to see the problem with putting this kind of information online for anyone to see?

When Sharing Becomes Scary

Consider the treasure trove of information you’ve given the bad guys just through your social media account. A common account security question answer is your mother’s maiden name. Since you’ve identified your mother in your social media account, that information is now easy for fraudsters to track down.

Additionally, you’ve revealed answers to a good number of other common security questions: your favorite teacher’s name, the street you grew up on, your first telephone number, your favorite color, your favorite sports team and your dog’s name.

Does everyone need to know your favorite teacher’s name was Mr. Franklin, or that you grew up on Farmington Avenue? And that big vacation? You’ve just alerted criminals that you’re not home, giving them plenty of time to rob your house or steal your car. Most of your friends will still “like” your vacation photos and stories just as much after you return home as when you post them live. Do you really want to tack up a big sign on the internet that basically says, “I’m going to be 1,300 miles from home for the next five days,”?

Think Before You Click

Before you click that “Share” button, consider whether you’re posting information you would want a criminal to have access to. It’s best to avoid sharing too much personal information, even if it appears as just an entertaining, harmless quiz. Read the quizzes closely; there’s usually something personally identifiable hidden among questions about your favorite food or color.

Avoiding that “harmless repost” of your personal information could prevent your bank account from becoming compromised. Resisting the temptation to tell everyone that you’re heading to the Bahamas on vacation could protect your valuables. The excitement you’re feeling isn’t worth returning home to find your personal property ransacked, stolen and damaged.