Paying utility, credit card, insurance and phone bills through mobile devices is an incredible way to save users a lot of time and effort. The process is simple and efficient. Apart from these payments, you can support charity causes from the comfort of your home or office via online payment services. However, there is a growing concern over cases of cyber-theft, which can include identity theft and financial fraud. This legitimate concern demands practical steps to safeguard online payments, with a view to reducing or eliminating cyber-theft.

What can be done to overcome this monster that has cost individuals and corporate organizations billions of dollars? Let’s give consideration to these useful tips:

1. Check websites for HTTPS.

The first sign of security you should look out for whenever you log in to any website is HTTPS. This secure connection will give you the needed guarantee that whatever transaction takes place between you and the site is exclusively restricted to only you and the system.

Related: Security Hacks are leaving a Lasting Impact on Retailers

Note that if the HTTPS is missing an “S”, it is a red flag. Don’t log in. The site is definitely not secure for vital transactions.

2. Always update your gadgets.

Do you have any idea why browser apps are updated regularly? It is an effective method of blocking potential security loopholes in outdated versions. To take advantage of these security features, which can guarantee you adequate protection from malware and other software programs that can put you at risk for cyber-theft, always update your browser app.

According to Charles J. Harris, executive vice president of TSYS Merchant Solutions, "You should update your device to the latest version of its operating system to ensure you are as secure as possible. If this is not possible (some older devices cannot update to the latest version of the operating system due to hardware limits), upgrade to a new mobile device to stay current.

The process of updating it is relatively simple. The results are absolutely awesome.

3. Keep public WiFi at arm’s length.

If you are shopping outdoors, always reject the temptation to use public WiFi. If you use it, you are unwittingly exposing yourself to cyber-theft. Instead of using it, stick to the old-school way of doing things, use 3G/4G for browsing.

Related: The Beginner's Guide to Securely Using Public Wi-Fi

If you are shopping from home, ensure that you are browsing on a network that is protected by WPA-2 and enable the encryption settings. This should give you maximum security from potential cyber thieves.

4. Look for important security signs.

One of the security signs you should look out for is a small padlock on browsers. If you want to make an online purchase and this padlock icon is missing, try another store. The padlock is a sign of security for data and information. If the icon is conspicuously absent, any private data that you transfer may be compromised.

Don’t be in a hurry to make that purchase. Look for that seemingly unimportant icon as well as many other signs that assure you of security. It could make the difference between the protection or loss of your money.

5. Don’t expose your log-in credentials.

Accidental exposure of your log-in details will automatically put you at risk of cyber-theft. There are cyber-criminals who are adept at punishing people who make such mistakes. Before you can even raise an alarm, your money might have developed wings and gone. That will be hard on you.

6. Don’t store sensitive data on your mobile device.

Some mobile device users have the habit of storing important and sensitive card data on their devices. The rationale behind the habit is to have easy access to their data whenever they need it. That is good. It will make online purchases more convenient.

Related: 11 Tips to Secure Mobile Devices and Client Data

If you can have easy access to your credit card data, don’t you think others will have access to the same pieces of information if the device is stolen? If you practice that habit, stop it. If you are contemplating cultivating the habit, don’t. It is the easiest way to expose yourself to theft. If the app you are using for payment has “store and forward” feature, turn it off.

7. Use a complex password or security pattern on your device.

This tip is very useful for making you invulnerable to cyber-theft if your mobile device accidentally gets into the wrong hands. You could use hard-to-break passwords or patterns gotten from a random password generator. When you do, the chances that others will lay their hands on your transactions history and use the information to hurt you will be immediately reduced.

You can also make provision for automatic locking if the device is idle for a pre-determined period of time.

Simply put, these suggestions are easy and effective. If you can cultivate the habit of taking these precautions, you will be able to safeguard yourself from people who are ready to prey on you.

Happy shopping!