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Making a payment is a transaction every consumer will do at some point. The global payments industry has traditionally been dominated by banks. But as more fintech players and large technology firms join the industry, consumers now have more payment choices than ever before. These choices are set to increase further because of the potential of the global payments industry as a whole. According to a 2019 McKinsey report on global payments, the industry’s total revenue reached $1.9 trillion in 2018, reflecting a growth level of 6%. In fact, the industry has grown at a historical annual rate of 6% since 2007, and by 2023, McKinsey expects total revenue to reach $2.7 trillion.
With growth comes increased risks, such as cybercrimes. In fact, according to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, business email scams caused over $12.5 billion in domestic and international dollar loss from October 2013 to May 2018. What makes the industry attractive to cybercriminals is the slim chance of recovery due to the complexities involved behind a payment transaction, especially for cross-border transactions where no single regulatory body controls them.
So what should consumers do to protect themselves? Here are four tips to help ensure your payment does not fall into the hands of cybercriminals.
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Be wary of persons or companies that approach you purporting to save you massive transactional or foreign exchange fees as long as they handle the transaction for you. They may contact you in multiple ways. It could be digital, such as email or text. It could be via a phone call. Or it could even be face to face.
2. Do your homework.
Use only reputable and/or licensed payment providers. Go online, and check accreditation or complaints agency websites to determine the reputation of the payment provider. Go to the relevant financial regulator website to determine if the payment provider is licensed.
3. Stay vigilant.
So you have completed your payment and think that’s the end of it. But it is not. Be alert for scams that target consumers after the completion of the transaction. One typical scam involves someone purporting to be tech support and informing you there is something wrong with your transaction. To avoid becoming a target of such scams, do not provide sensitive data such as your password, and do not allow strangers to remotely access your computer. As a safety precaution, you should verify the identity of the requestor.
4. Protect your devices.
Do these six things to protect your computer and mobile devices:
• First, make sure to install and update your antivirus software. This prevents malicious programs from embedding on your computer and device.
• Second, make sure your firewall is turned on. This will help protect your computer and device from hackers who might try to steal passwords and other sensitive information.
• Third, keep your operating software up to date by installing the latest updates, which may come with security patches that fix previously identified security issues.
• Fourth, be careful what you download. It may come with malicious codes designed to circumvent antivirus software and steal your information.
• Fifth, clear your computer and device cache and browsing history so hackers cannot use that information.
• Sixth, turn off your computer and mobile device when you are not using them so they are less susceptible to unwanted attacks.
Keeping these tips in mind will help make your payment experience safe as the industry continues its upward trajectory. Do not let the cybercriminals tarnish an otherwise important industry.