iPhone and iPad Security

Apple Pay Is Safer Than You Think: 5 Facts To Prove It

Dan Price 24-07-2017

Mobile-based payment services Mobile Payments Are Coming -- Here's Why I'll Still Use Cash Mobile payments are all the rage with Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay all making a splash. But are they worth it? Read More are becoming more and more popular. There are a wealth of competing companies, all of whom offer ways to pay for products without you needing to whip out your wallet or purse.


But how do they compare to traditional plastic cards regarding safety? Are you confident you won’t wake up one morning to find that a hacker has emptied your bank account?

In this article, we’re going to use Apple Pay as a case study. What security features does it offer? What safeguards are in place? Let’s investigate.

What Is Apple Pay?

Before we start, let’s take a moment to explain exactly what Apple Pay is Everything You Need to Know about Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay all have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at exactly how each of them works and who can use them. Read More .

Apple Pay is included on iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. After coming online in October 2014, it’s grown to become one of the leading mobile payment services.

It uses a near field communication (NFC) antenna How To Use Apple Pay To Buy Things With Your iPhone Your iPhone may some day be the only device you need to purchase products and services, but first you need to start using Apple Pay. Read More , which, when tapped against a contactless payment terminal, debits your account for the specified amount of money.


apple pay

Lots of companies now offer contactless payment terminals, including several leading retail brands in North America and Europe. Some banks have even added receivers to ATMs, allowing you to withdraw cash without using your credit or debit card.

At the time of writing, the service is available in 21 countries. Five more are due to go live later in 2017. But is it safe?

1. Adding Cards to Your Account

Back in the day, credit card fraud How Credit Card Fraud Works and How to Stay Safe Credit cards and gift cards are regularly stolen. How do thieves get your card? How can you keep safe from credit card fraud? Read More was easy. All a hacker had to do was acquire a credit card number from a deep corner of the dark web, and they could go on an almost unhindered spending spree in shops until the legitimate owner of the account realized something was afoot.


The growth of EMV chips had been whittling away at the success rate of the tactic, but Apple Pay has reignited the illegal industry. But why?

Simply put, it’s easy to add a credit card number to an Apple Pay account. Once added, the criminal can once again go on an in-store spending spree until the owner notices.

It isn’t Apple’s fault. The company’s processes are as robust as they can be. Apple can’t decrypt the Device Account Number, doesn’t store it on Apple Pay servers, and doesn’t send it to iCloud. Furthermore, Apple doesn’t have access to the credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers you have added.

Instead, point your finger at the banks. Some banks are excellent at checking up on cards added to mobile payment services; others aren’t. There’s no authoritative list of which banks are good and which are bad. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that in many cases, as long as the criminal has the card number and the three CVV digits, they won’t be stopped until it’s too late.


2. Using Touch ID for Contactless Payments

No contactless payment method is entirely secure, but Apple Pay has an important added layer of protection that doesn’t exist on contactless debit and credit cards.

Contactless cards work by using a Device ID. They don’t have any authentication for payments below $30. In practice, this means anyone with your card can walk into a shop and start using it.

Apple Pay uses Device ID technology, but also introduces Touch ID. Your biometric fingerprint will authorize the payment, no matter how small. If your fingerprint is not recognized, the payment will not be allowed to proceed.

The Apple technology further protects you with Apple’s Unique Device Account Number. If the contactless machine you’re paying on has been specifically designed to work with Apple Pay, neither your card details or banking details will be shared with the seller.


3. Paying Online

If you do a lot of online shopping, you might have noticed Apple Pay starting to pop up in more and more stores’ checkouts. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have viewed it with a dose of suspicion: how can you make a secure online payment using a mobile-centric contactless app?

But alas, there’s no reason to be concerned. In fact, Apple Pay is more secure than lots of other online payment methods.

online payment with mobile phone
Image Credit: Nong Mars via Shutterstock

To keep you safe, Apple Pay receives your encrypted transaction and re-encrypts it with a developer-specific key. From there, the payment goes to the payment processor. The encryption means only the site you are making the purchase on can see your details, and the site itself even has to reverify its domain with Apple for every purchase.

As a result, it’s much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your details as the payment flies around the world. Bottom line? You’re much less likely to be a victim of credit card fraud.

4. Losing Your Device

Everyone loses their wallet at some point in their life. Whether you accidentally left it in Starbucks or someone pilfered it from your back pocket on the train doesn’t really matter. You’ll still be frantically calling your banks and credit card companies to cancel your cards and order new ones.

What happens if you lose your iPhone Found a Lost or Stolen iPhone? Here's What to Do Found a lost or stolen iPhone? Here's how you can try to unlock a lost iPhone and return it to its rightful owner. Read More ? Are all your details suddenly going to end up in the hands of a hardened criminal? In short, no.

If you have set up the Find My iPhone feature, you can instantly suspend Apple Pay by putting your missing device into Lost Mode (All Devices > [Device Name] > Lost Mode). Lost Mode lets you re-enable Apple Pay at a later date if your phone shows up.

If your phone has gone forever, there are a couple more steps you can take. Head to iCloud.com/settings to remove the Apple Pay feature from the phone entirely, and use Find My iPhone to erase all your card information.

Even if you don’t have Find My iPhone set up, there is no need to panic. Apple only keeps a fragment of your card information on the app itself, so there’s no chance a criminal can simply copy down all the details and start using them.

5. Privacy

One of Apple’s strong suits has always been privacy, and Apple Pay is no different.

The company does not track, log, or watch what you’re buying with Apple Pay, or where you’re using it. Nobody can trace the transaction information back to you.

The only exception is Apple’s Location Services 6 Things You Didn't Realize Your iPhone Is Tracking Your iPhone keeps tabs on all kinds of things -- here's how to use that to your advantage. Read More . According to the company, if you have Location Services turned on, the “location of your device and the approximate date and time of the transaction may be sent anonymously to Apple.” Apple claims it uses the information to improve the accuracy of business names.

If you’re uncomfortable with even this slight level of intrusion, turn Location Services off by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

If you’re concerned about what kind of information the company has about you, you can request your personal data from Apple, including Apple Pay activity.

Do You Use Apple Pay?

As you can tell from my five points, Apple Pay is largely secure. Sure, it might have a couple of flaws, but so too does any payment system.

In fact, many people don’t realize the current payment system is splitting at the seams — it’s become a red-hot target for hackers in recent years. Apple Pay is unquestionably an upgrade.

For other things, like Apple Pay, that you can do with your device; check out these hidden iPhone features that will impress your friends 7 Secret iPhone Features That Will Impress Your Friends Want to dig up some of the fun tricks your iPhone has in store? Have a look at these features that will impress your friends. Read More .

Image Credit: Pressmaster via Shutterstock.com

Related topics: Apple Pay, Online Fraud.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Einstein
    January 25, 2019 at 1:12 am

    My apple pay just got scammed last night. Over $1000 dollars got charged on my card (including a $600.00 charge to apple store) before I got a text about suspicious charges on my card. Apple pay is no more secure than any other credit card payment method.

  2. Karina acevedo
    January 20, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    If I purchase an item from a private seller that is shipped to my house and the product is diffective can I file a case and receive a refund?

  3. Chris
    October 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Apple Pay is great if you are a criminal or engage in online fraud. I recently made an online purchase using Apple Pay. I never received the merchandise and Apple Pay will not refund me my money.

    Apple Pay is designed for criminals to move money around without being traced.

  4. Sam
    August 3, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    I use my credit card only with Apple Pay and don’t have a physical card. Recently my card info was stolen and used for a couple of thousand dollars. If it wasn’t for the bank blocking it, the full amount in the card would have been stolen.
    No Apple Pay is not safe.

  5. Julue
    December 31, 2017 at 1:46 am

    My husband is extremely afraid of me using Apple Pay. It sounds like it is safer than most payment methods. For folks who have used it for a few years, did you have any fraud?

    • Scott
      February 25, 2018 at 2:02 am

      I have used Apple Pay since it became available. In fact, I use it every chance I get. Never had a problem with fraud.

      The only problem I've had is occasionally the transaction won't go through and I have to use a physical card.

      If you learn how Apple Pay works, it's way safer that just about any other form of payment.

      • Julie Wasmus
        February 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks so much, Scott!

    • Mike
      March 4, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      I’ve used Apple Pay for several years. I have one card that I use the most for Apple Pay and I can’t think of anytime I’ve had to have it replaced. The physical card I use most has been replaced recently due to suspicion of fraud. Besides, it’s quicker to use than the chip card. I use my watch most of the time, so I don’t even have to get my phone or wallet out of my pocket!

    • lisa
      August 20, 2018 at 8:14 pm

      I've only been using Apple Pay for a few weeks but have already had my credit card info stolen. Please, for your own sake, do not use ApplePay.

      • Einstein
        January 25, 2019 at 1:14 am

        What bank was your credit card from? Our bank that our card that was scammed from on apple pay was Barclay.

  6. Matny
    July 25, 2017 at 12:43 am

    I use Apple Pay and I love it sure I look like a dweeb sometimes doing it but someday it will look just as natural as whipping out the old wallet and swiping

    • Freddie Mack
      July 25, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      I have used Apple Pay since 2014 and it's awesome!!!