CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to be careful when using mobile devices to pay for goods this holiday season.

“The ability to pay for items with a mobile device is incredibly convenient, but it’s important not to let the ease of the transaction take your focus away from keeping your personal information safe,” Morrisey said in a press release.

Morrisey's office noted a few ways to keep your information safe, including:

  • Make sure to passcode protect your phone. Requiring a four-digit code or a passphrase on your phone can prevent a person from accessing apps where sensitive data is stored.

  • Only download apps that have access to your credit or debit card information from trusted sources, like Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

  • If your phone uses an NFC connection to make payments, disable that option when it’s not in use.

  • Only use a mobile payment option that allows you to receive an electronic receipt instantly that shows you what amount was charged to your card.

  • As always, regularly monitor your accounts, especially through the busy shopping seasons. The holiday rush can be a prime time for people to steal identities and cash from unsuspecting consumers.

“As technology continues to grow and change, scammers find new, creative ways to separate hard-working consumers from their money,” Morrisey said. “Even though paying for items through your phone can save you time, don’t allow it to cost you additional money. Be vigilant with your device, and your accounts.”

Recently, the National Consumer League reported an increase in the number of consumers who have had information compromised through mobile banking, even if the consumer paid through traditional means, such as a personal check.

Several mobile banking apps have the ability to allow a person to deposit checks electronically simply by sending a photo of the front and back of the check. Scammers are taking additional photos of the checks, storing the account details, and using them to empty the bank accounts of their victims.

“If you don’t feel comfortable paying for an item electronically, don’t," Morrisey said. "See if there’s another way to purchase."

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