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How secure are mobile pay apps like Venmo, Apple Pay and Google Pay?

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Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 15:49:21-05

PHOENIX — Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay are some of the most popular mobile pay apps. If you don't use them, you've likely heard of them.

They're easy, but you may be concerned about their security. What if you lose your phone or it's stolen?

Ken Colburn with the Data Doctors says they are actually more secure than the credit cards you likely carry around.

If your cards are lost or stolen and used, you may not have to pay for fraud charges. But it can be a huge hassle and take a lot of calls to get everything straightened out.

With mobile pay, you can link a credit card or bank account and pay through the app. There's likely a fee to use credit, but no fee for linking a bank account.

Each of the apps has different requirements and uses. For example, Google Pay can be used with iPhones or android phones. Apple Pay can only be used with Apple devices.

With mobile apps, your financial information isn't exposed during a transaction. It isn't stored for hackers to access, and account numbers can't be stolen. And if your phone is taken, there are built-in protections.

"They'd have to somehow get past the facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, whatever you put on there," Colburn says.

Locked, with two-factor authentication and a PIN adds another secure level.

Colburn says mobile pay is always a better choice if you can't use a chip credit card with its protections. Some gas stations and convenience stores still only allow swiping.

"You can see a wireless symbol to use a smartphone to make that gas purchase. And if you do, you bypass all the threats and challenges," Colburn says.

Even with a mobile app, you take more risks by not linking a credit card.

You can dispute fraud charges with credit cards. But if you pay someone directly through your bank, it's like handing over cash. And if the person is a scammer, your money is gone.

See Consumer Reports' take on popular mobile pay apps here.

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