Mobile-based payment services are becoming more and more popular. There are a wealth of competing companies, all of whom offer ways to pay for products without you needing to whip out your wallet or purse. Actually, no payment method is entirely safe from fraud. But Apple Pay provides cardholders with several layers of security that can protect against some common forms of credit card theft. If you want to try Apple Pay, knowing what it is and how it works is important as well as how your credit card information is safeguarded and what you can do to stay protected while using it. Now let’s see how Apple Pay provides safety for its users.
What Is Apple Pay and How Does It Work?
Apple Pay allows you to make purchases in stores and online by using your Apple devices instead of using cash or a physical credit or debit card. Simply enter your card information into Apple Wallet. When you get ready to make a purchase, use Apple Pay to expedite your checkout process by eliminating the need to swipe your card or set up an account online.
Depending on your phone model, you may also need to hold your finger over Touch ID, use facial recognition, or enter a passcode. Other than that, you shouldn’t need any additional steps — you don’t even need to open an app! Keep in mind that Apple Pay isn’t accepted universally, but it will work at any merchant on the growing list of retailers who accept Apple Pay.
As a bonus feature, you can also send and receive money directly through your messages. This is great for transferring funds to friends and family without incurring any extra fees.
Apple Pay Safety Tips
1. Adding Cards to Your Account to Provide Safety for Your Apple Pay
Back in the day, credit card fraud was easy. All a hacker had to do was acquire a credit card number from a deep corner of the dark web, and they could go on an almost unhindered spending spree in shops until the legitimate owner of the account realized something was afoot.
The growth of EMV chips had been whittling away at the success rate of the tactic, but Apple Pay has reignited the illegal industry. But why?
Simply put, it is easy to add a credit card number to an Apple Pay account. Once added, the criminal can once again go on an in-store spending spree until the owner notices.
It isn’t Apple’s fault. The company’s processes are as robust as they can be. Apple can’t decrypt the Device Account Number, doesn’t store it on Apple Pay servers, and doesn’t send it to iCloud. Furthermore, Apple doesn’t have access to the credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers you have added.
Instead, point your finger at the banks. Some banks are excellent at checking up on cards added to mobile payment services; others aren’t. There is no authoritative list of which banks are good and which are bad. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that in many cases, as long as the criminal has the card number and the three CVV digits, they won’t be stopped until it is too late.
2. “Use Touch ID for Contactless Payments” for Your Apple Pay Safety
No contactless payment method is entirely secure, but Apple Pay has an important added layer of protection that doesn’t exist on contactless debit and credit cards.
Contactless cards work by using a Device ID. They don’t have any authentication for payments below $30. In practice, this means anyone with your card can walk into a shop and start using it.
Apple Pay uses Device ID technology, but also introduces Touch ID. Your biometric fingerprint will authorize the payment, no matter how small. If your fingerprint is not recognized, the payment will not be allowed to proceed.
The Apple technology further protects you with Apple’s Unique Device Account Number. If the contactless machine you are paying on has been specifically designed to work with Apple Pay, neither your card details or banking details will be shared with the seller.
3. Paying Online
If you do a lot of online shopping, you might have noticed Apple Pay starting to pop up in more and more stores’ checkouts. If you are anything like me, you will have viewed it with a dose of suspicion: how can you make a secure online payment using a mobile-centric contactless app?
But alas, there is no reason to be concerned. In fact, Apple Pay is more secure than lots of other online payment methods.
To keep you safe, Apple Pay receives your encrypted transaction and re-encrypts it with a developer-specific key. From there, the payment goes to the payment processor. The encryption means only the site you are making the purchase on can see your details, and the site itself even has to reverify its domain with Apple for every purchase.
As a result, it is much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your details as the payment flies around the world. Bottom line? You are much less likely to be a victim of credit card fraud.
4. Losing Your Device
Everyone loses their wallet at some point in their life. Whether you accidentally left it in Starbucks or someone pilfered it from your back pocket on the train doesn’t really matter. You will still be frantically calling your banks and credit card companies to cancel your cards and order new ones.
What happens if you lose your iPhone? Are all your details suddenly going to end up in the hands of a hardened criminal? In short, no.
If you have set up the Find My iPhone feature, you can instantly suspend Apple Pay by putting your missing device into Lost Mode (All Devices > [Device Name] > Lost Mode). Lost Mode lets you re-enable Apple Pay at a later date if your phone shows up.
If your phone has gone forever, there are a couple more steps you can take. Head to iCloud.com/settings to remove the Apple Pay feature from the phone entirely, and use Find My iPhone to erase all your card information.
Even if you don’t have Find My iPhone set up, there is no need to panic. Apple only keeps a fragment of your card information on the app itself, so there’s no chance a criminal can simply copy down all the details and start using them.
One of Apple’s strong suits has always been privacy, and Apple Pay is no different.
The company does not track, log, or watch what you’re buying with Apple Pay, or where you’re using it. Nobody can trace the transaction information back to you.
The only exception is Apple’s Location Services. According to the company, if you have Location Services turned on, the “location of your device and the approximate date and time of the transaction may be sent anonymously to Apple.” Apple claims it uses the information to improve the accuracy of business names.
If you are uncomfortable with even this slight level of intrusion, turn Location Services off by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
If you are concerned about what kind of information the company has about you, you can request your personal data from Apple, including Apple Pay activity.
Why Apple Pay Safety Is More than Using a Physical Card?
Trusting technology can be scary, especially if you are accustomed to a certain process. But using Apple Pay can protect your credit card information in ways that using the card can’t.
Apple Pay requires extra verification for your safety
With a physical credit card, all a thief needs to successfully make a purchase is your card and a merchant who doesn’t match cards with IDs. And the four credit card payment networks – Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover – no longer require signatures.
With Apple Pay, however, someone who steals your device will have a hard time using it to make purchases. The app requires that you verify your identity using your passcode or the Touch ID or Face ID feature, and the latter two can be tough to fake.
It doesn’t share your card information
Every time you make a purchase with Apple Pay, whether in a store, in an app or online, the mobile wallet creates a unique code for processing the transaction instead of sharing your credit card number.
“The credit card number is never given to the merchant, and when used online, never travels across the internet between your device and the merchant site,” says Thomas Reed, director of Mac and mobile at cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes. “If by some chance a criminal were to intercept this data, it’s a one-time-use code, so it couldn’t be abused in the same manner as a credit card number.”
Your credit card’s EMV chip uses the same technology, called tokenization. But not all merchants have chip readers, and EMV chips don’t work when you make in-app and online purchases. As a result, Apple Pay can especially be helpful for mobile and online shopping, where storing your credit card information could make it vulnerable to data breaches.
Your information can’t be skimmed
If you are shopping with a merchant who requires you to swipe your card instead of use the chip, the static information on the magnetic strip can easily be stolen if a thief has installed a card-skimming device on the card reader.
Because Apple Pay doesn’t share static information or require a swipe, Barratt says, it’s significantly safer than using a physical card in that way.
It doesn’t store your card information on your device
Apple neither shares your card information with merchants nor keeps your card information on your device or its own servers.
“An attacker who gains access to your device or your iCloud account would not be able to get your credit card information,” Reed says. The same goes if a hacker somehow manages to gain access to Apple’s servers.
You can suspend the service
If you have activated the Find My iPhone feature or a similar feature on another Apple device, you can suspend the Apple Pay app by placing your device in “lost mode.” This will keep you from having to cancel all of your credit cards, which is what you’d need to do if you think someone has stolen your wallet.
Do You Use Apple Pay?
As you can tell from my five points above, Apple Pay largely provides safety. Sure, it might have a couple of flaws, but so too does any payment system.
In fact, many people don’t realize the current payment system is splitting at the seams. It has become a red-hot target for hackers in recent years. Apple Pay is unquestionably an upgrade.