3 Popular Apps That Could Put Your Money At Risk

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Smartphones have made life much more convenient. With the ability to text, research the Internet, locate places on a map, and listen to music, these devices have allowed us to live easier lives. Smartphones have also made it much more convenient to pay merchants for products or services by storing your credit card information for quick use at checkout, but that convenience could put your money at risk.

Credit card information stored on your smartphone may put you more at risk for fraud if your phone is lost or stolen. While most apps have some sort of security measure to protect from fraud, there are some that leave your information and money vulnerable. Ahead you will find three popular apps that you should be weary about storing your credit card information on.

1. Starbucks 
The Starbucks smartphone application allows customers to pay for their purchases with ease through the phone. Anyone can sign up, and it provides great perks (like complimentary drinks) for people that use the app regularly.

The risk
It was recently revealed that the Starbucks application available for smartphones saves user passwords, usernames, and other sensitive information in the form of plain text. While most apps that hold this type of information on them use encryption, the Starbucks app simply stores the data without any security. Encryption helps secure a person's information by adding a layer of protection to their data — when there's no encryption a hacker could easily steal a person's information. This means anyone with access to a person's phone can easily steal information stored on the Starbucks app.

For someone that uses the same password for multiple apps, that can lead to identity theft problems.

2. TabbedOut 
TabbedOut is a convenient app you install on your phone to help you pay the cost of a bill you accumulate while at a restaurant or bar. You can also pay other people that have the app. Store your credit card information on the app and paying your friends or merchant becomes easier and more convenient than ever.

The risk
The problem with TabbedOut is that if your phone is lost or stolen, you could be faced with an insane bill on your credit card statement. A thief could steal your phone and rack up a huge tab at a bar or restaurant, they can then pay their bill using the stolen phone that has the TabbedOut application. A thief could also give themselves a large payment through the phone and steal your money directly.

3. Facebook 
In September of last year, Facebook started to allow its users to store credit card information on the social network directly. The purpose is to allow the ability to auto-fill credit card information during checkout when buying anything through Facebook.

The risk
Anyone with access to your phone could start buying items through Facebook. Since most people remain logged in to Facebook, all a person needs to do is find a phone with someone already logged in and they can start making purchases.

Another risk to watch out for is getting your Facebook account hacked. There are many gimmicks on Facebook that trick people to give up their login information. If this were to happen to someone with credit card information stored on their account, a hacker could figure out a way to take advantage of the stored data.

How to protect your security
There are precautions you can take to prevent fraud from occurring as a result of a lost or stolen phone. Use the following tips to make it harder for thieves to cause you trouble.

  • Lock your mobile device and create a unique PIN code to access your phone (never use your debit pin number).
  • Use different passwords on various apps used for purchases.
  • Never store sensitive information in your phone's notes section.
  • Log out of emails and social media when not using your phone.
  • Refrain from installing applications you are not familiar with.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 10, 2014, at 8:49 AM, Jeffkory wrote:

    It seems like now days people are using their smart phones to do their thinking for them- Which is making people incapable of a intelligent thought- I see it every day. They need to create a app to reattach the brain. At the mall last week I watched 3 teens in the food court for over 1 hour on their phones that didn't say 1 word to each other- I think they were texting each other- This is really sad- ANDROID FOR PRESIDENT !!

  • Report this Comment On February 11, 2014, at 7:43 PM, SunDevilDon wrote:

    Some great recommendations here. I do use the Starbuck's app, but I never reload it myself nor have I ever registered my bank card on my Starbuck's account. I only reload my Starbuck's card by handing my bank credit card to the barista. The card never leaves my sight. So my exposure should the phone (or the physical Starbuck's card for that matter) ever get stolen is limited to the current balance on the card.

    BTW my entire phone is encrypted. This is an option Android allows (Nexus 4 anyway). But they don't allow you to have a different PIN for the encryption from the screen locking one. Dumb move Google, fix it!

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