With the announcement by Apple Inc., millions of Americans can now begin using a new mobile payment service that many say will usher in a new era of convenience and security of mobile payments on iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch. There are measures you should take to protect yourself financially as payments from your cell phone become an increasing part of your lifestyle — especially as we move into the busy holiday shopping season, cautions the California Society of CPAs (www.CalCPA.org) is the nation’s largest professional, non-profit state association representing more than 40,000 CPAs in the area of tax, audit, accounting and consulting services such as personal finance.

California CPAs suggest the following strategies to protect yourself as we move into a growing mobile payments environment:

Step 1: Beware of Identity Theft. Any time you have to enter sensitive information in an online form, like your Social Security number, address and phone number, it’s natural to feel a twinge of hesitation. To protect your identity online, the FTC recommends that you remove all information from computers before disposing of them using a wipe utility program; extract SIM cards and delete all information permanently, especially pertaining to contact lists, calls made and received, voicemails, emails, and web histories; install encryption software on your devices; maintain unique, strong and varied passwords for different sites that request your personal information; don’t overshare on social media sites, as information could be used to get through verification questions; and, be wary of public Wi-Fi, as any account activity in that network might not be protected.

Step 2. Review Technical Errors Resulting in Missing Funds. A technical mistake is a factor consumers must contend with when banking digitally. According to the FTC, you 60 days from the date of a periodic statement containing an error to file a claim. Financial institutions have 10 days to investigate and three additional days to inform you of their findings. This window can be extended to 45 days so long as the financial institution temporarily reimburses the funds until the investigation is complete.

Step 3. Understand Certain Companies May Misuse Your Information. Many companies track your online behavior to better tailor their marketing efforts to relevant consumers, and many sell your personal information to other companies. Read the privacy policies of the sites you’re on. By knowing what agreeing to a site’s terms and conditions really means, you’ll feel more in control of your information and aware of what a company can do and cannot do with it.

Step 4. Beware of Lack of Documentation. Paper statements force people to take a look at their spending habits and evaluate how well they’re performing financially. But in an increasingly digital world, consumers and financial institutions alike are transitioning to e-statements – some financial institutions actually require that account holders opt in to e-statements to receive the posted interest rate. One way to address this concern is to apply the same due diligence your bank put into mailing you regular paper statements to your personal finances. Set a calendar reminder to log into your account monthly to maintain the same awareness of your account activity.

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