Don't Let Security Fearsput Youoff Newway Topay; Security Fears over Online Payment Methods Put More Than a Quarter of Us off Using Them. TRICIA PHILLIPS Takes a Look at What the Banks Are Doing, and Action You Can Take, to Keep Your Cash Safe from Fraudsters

Article excerpt

MORE than a quarter of us are "paynuphobes" who avoid using the latest payment methods because of security concerns. Fear of mobile banking and contactless cards affects 26% of us - that's more than the number who are scared of spiders at 25%, according to PayYourWay.org.uk, the Payment Council's education campaign.

This phobia is costing us time and money as more than a fifth have wasted time queuing to check a bank balance and one in seven has incurred a late fee because they missed a payment.

It is the risk of thieves gaining access to bank accounts and personal information that holds many of us back. The Payments Council says there is no need for these fears because the latest ways to pay are safe and easy to use and banks have measures to protect customers.

But figures from CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, show fraud is at an all-time high and villains are going for high volume, low value scams as a way to avoid being caught. Contactless payment cards, which offer a fast alternative to cash on transactions up to PS20 with no PIN required on many purchases, are ideal for thieves looking for a quick, low value spending spree.

And mobiles also offer rich pickings for fraudsters as many people don't protect devices with passwords and often store personal information on them.

To encourage people to embrace new technologies, the Payments Council is reassuring people that all methods are tested before going public. It said that even if the worst happens, victims are legally entitled to a full, immediate refund if they haven't acted fraudulently or negligently.

Here's our guide to the latest technology, including what banks do to help keep you safe and what you can do to prevent crooks getting your money.

CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS What the banks do: Offer the same level of protection as traditional plastic cards, meaning that customers get legal protection from fraud.

Although a contactless transaction doesn't usually require a PIN to be entered, usage is monitored by the chip on the card.

A maximum number of consecutive contactless transactions is set before the cardholder is required to tap in their PIN. This is designed to deter and limit fraudulent use. The data from contactless payment cards cannot be re-used by a fraudster to create a counterfeit card.

What you can do: Contactless cards can only be read from about 5cm away, so it's a good idea to take it out of your wallet to pay, particularly if you have more than one.

Whether your card is contactless or not, you should report it immediately to your bank if it's lost or stolen. This lets your card company put a stop on the card straight away. All card companies have 24-hour phone lines to enable you to do this.

If a mistake occurs while using a contactless card, a refund can be processed immediately in the store. If the error is noticed later your card company will be able to help.

ONLINE BANKING What the banks do: There are lots of behind-the-scenes measures in place to keep our cash safe online, including detection software to spot fraudulent transactions.

Banks also work continuously with police and crime agencies to track down online criminals. …