Leave wallet at home, pay with smartphone

Retailers like Macy's, Target, Starbucks allow customers to pay with their phones

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Several times in the past few months police have told the public about more skimmers on gas station pumps.

[WEB EXTRA: Click here to find new ways to pay]

And six months later some consumers are still dealing with the fallout of having personal information stolen while Christmas shopping at major retailers.

For those reasons, and simply because it's easier, more people are saying goodbye to their wallets and checkbooks, and sending and receiving cash through their smartphones.

When Adam Berard pays his roommate his share of the rent, he doesn't get out his checkbook. He pulls out his smartphone and fires up Venmo.

The roommates both registered with Venmo.com and when one owes the other money, it's as easy as finding the name, entering the amount and hitting send.

Square Cash and PayPal work in a similar way, linking to the user's bank account.

Several banks also have their own payment apps, allowing parents to pay babysitters, friends, to split dinner checks and more.

"It's the convenience factor of paying with your phone. Considering that you are carrying it with you all the time it's fantastic, you no longer have to find a check, you no longer have to have cash on hand," explained one banking expert.

Apps like Passbook on the iPhone allow you to pay at the Home Depot, Starbucks, Target and even buy movie or airline tickets.

And for Android users there's Google Wallet. It also links to a credit card and allows you to pay for things at Macy's, Walgreens, Subway and more.

Most apps are free, but some charge a fee if linked to a credit card or debit card. Your best option is to link it to a credit card, which gives you protection over faulty charges and protects your bank account.

No matter which app you use, using your smartphone to pay is only as safe as you make it. Be sure to have a passcode on your phone and if the app allows it, set a pass code for that as well.

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