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SWACHA: Consumer Confidence in Electronic Payments Remains High as 10th Annual Cyber Security Awareness Month Begins


Oct 3 - October is the 10th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month and according to a new survey from SWACHA, Texans are more confident than ever in the security of electronic payments. Dallas-based SWACHA is one of the largest not-for profit regional electronic payments associations in the country.

According to SWACHA’s 2013 Consumer Insights Survey, 90 percent of Texans surveyed reported they have never experienced a problem with electronic payments such as debit cards, credit cards or online banking. Additionally, they don’t expect to experience future problems, as 72 percent reported they have absolutely no concerns about electronic payments.

“This is good news for the electronic payments industry and shows that we are making great strides in ensuring that our country’s payment systems are a safe and secure way to make payments,” said Dennis Simmons, AAP, president and CEO of SWACHA. “But we need to make sure that we don’t get too comfortable as cyber criminals are always looking for a new way to hack into our payment systems.  The message of Cyber Security Awareness Month is to make sure people remain aware and are taking advantage of every safeguard possible to avoid a cyber-attack.”

Early Warning Alerts Gain Popularity

In an effort to make financial accounts more secure, consumers are taking advantage of the alert systems offered by financial institutions to flag them when accounts have been accessed from unfamiliar locations, withdrawals over a certain limit are made or passwords have been changed. According to the survey, email alerts were the most frequently cited with 64 percent of those surveyed responding they receive alerts via email, and another 30 percent receiving text message alerts or phone call alerts. Just 14 percent of those who have access to alerts through their financial institutions have chosen not to make use of the early warning system. 

Consumers Should Avoid Automated Login Information

While online and mobile device platforms exist to make electronic payments more convenient for consumers, Simmons recommends people do not automatically remember login information to bank accounts.

“With the recent articles making headlines that passwords are becoming easier to decode, we strongly discourage people from allowing a site to automatically populate both the username and password. We even recommend people don’t let a financial site remember a username without the password. You’re giving hackers half of the equation to compromise all of your financial information, which puts you at a greater risk.”

The good news is less than one-third of survey respondents indicated they have enabled this feature. Of those who have, only 31 percent allow a desktop computer to remember login information, 25 percent of laptop or portable computers users, 17 percent of cell phone users, and 11 percent of tablet users, according to SWACHA’s survey.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month was created in 2004 by the National Cyber Security Alliance to increase awareness of the importance of safe practices online to prevent phishing, identity theft and other cybercrimes. The NCSA provides cyber security tips for those who not only use social media but also to those who bank, pay bills or make purchases online or through mobile devices. Americans are encouraged to install security software on all Internet connected devices and to change Internet passwords every two or three months. Passwords should be at least eight characters, contain both capital and lowercase letters and numerals, and should not be used for multiple websites. Social media users and gamers should also be aware of privacy settings, limit who can see personal information, and never correspond or accept requests from someone you don’t know. 
About the Survey
SWACHA’s online survey of 600 Texans was conducted in August 2013 by Decision Analyst with a confidence interval of 95 percent and a corresponding margin of error of +/-4 percent. Only those respondents who identified themselves as the person responsible for paying household bills were permitted to complete the survey.