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Tennessee Consumer Affairs gives Tips to help Avoid Fraud Related to “Tap-and-Pay” Mobile Phone Transactions

Tennessee Division of Consumer AffairsNashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs wants to educate consumers about ways to protect yourself against fraud related to mobile phone payments.

“The increased usage of technology is a double-edged sword,” TDCI Deputy Commissioner Bill Giannini said. “While technology allows greater consumer convenience, it also gives criminals greater opportunity to take advantage of hard-working Tennessee residents. We urge Tennesseans to take precautions to ensure they don’t become victims.”

“Tap-and-Pay” Mobile Phone payments can open consumers to criminals and fraudulent transactions.
“Tap-and-Pay” Mobile Phone payments can open consumers to criminals and fraudulent transactions.

According to Consumer Action News, one of the most significant concerns for users of mobile phone payments—often called “tap-and-pay”—is how to resolve disputes about fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Depending on the source of funds used to make a mobile payment (such as a credit, debit or prepaid card), the rules governing unauthorized charges differ. Currently, prepaid cards and mobile payments don’t have the same legal protections as credit cards and debit cards.

Problems with mobile transactions paid for with a linked credit or debit card typically should be taken up with your card issuer. If you are using a credit or debit card, you have the right to dispute errors and limit liability for unauthorized (fraudulent) charges. Generally, credit cards provide the strongest level of legal protection.

Mobile wallet and prepaid card users have no clear-cut dispute and error resolution rights, although most issuers voluntarily provide “zero liability” assurances for fraud on credit, debit and prepaid cards.

Google’s Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are pass-through mobile payment systems. This means you link a payment card (credit or debit) to make payments. If you spot a billing error, contact the issuer of the credit or debit card you linked to, as well as the merchant where the transaction occurred. In most cases, you’ll have to wait until the purchase posts to your credit or debit card account before you can dispute it. If the problem is about a charge you didn’t make, then contact the card issuer immediately to alert them that someone used your card without your permission.

Here are a few tips to safeguard your mobile devices:

  • Secure your devices: Use strong passwords, passcodes or touch ID features to lock your devices. These security measures can help protect your information if your devices are lost or stolen and keep prying eyes out.
  • Think before you app: Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps.
  • Now you see me, now you don’t: Some stores and other locations look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your mobile device while you are connected. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services on these networks.
  • Keep your mobile phone and apps up to date: Your mobile devices are just as vulnerable as your PC or laptop. Having the most up-to-date security software, web browser, operating system and apps is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Delete when done: Many of us download apps for specific purposes, such as planning a vacation, and no longer need them afterwards, or we may have previously downloaded apps that are no longer useful or interesting to us. It’s a good security practice to delete all apps you no longer use.
  • Lost phone? Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay do not store payment card details on the phone, and they require passwords or PINs to make payments, so access to your payment information will be limited even if your phone is stolen. All three services offer a way to locate and lock stolen mobile phones. Apple offers Find My iPhone Activation Lock. You can erase information on your Android phone using the Android Device Manager. And, Samsung users can use the company’s Find My Mobile service.

The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs wants to remind consumers to be smart before using apps to pay. To learn more about mobile payments, click here or visit www.consumer-action.org. Visit www.tn.gov/consumer to file a complaint and ask about our mediation process.


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