By all accounts, Apple Pay is fast becoming a hit in the US. Reviews from tech pundits and users universally praise Apple’s mobile payments wallet for its simplicity, security, and ease of use. But what happens if your iPhone is stolen with all your credit and debit cards loaded on it? Thankfully there are a number of security features built into the iPhone itself, and the Apple Pay software, that will most likely prevent your cards from being used.
Apple has created a way to remotely wipe your cards from any Apple Pay device too, just to be 100% certain. In this article we’ll look at the security features of Apple Pay and tell you how to remote wipe your cards should the worst happen.
Touch ID and the Secure Element
The good thing about Apple Pay is that even if your device was stolen there is very little chance the thief would ever be able to use your debit or credit cards. That’s because Apple Pay has some pretty bulletproof security built in.
When you add your debit and credit card info to Apple Pay the card info is encrypted in a special processor called the Secure Element, which is segregated from the rest of the hardware and software on your device. Furthermore, once you’ve added all your payment cards their numbers are actually no longer stored in your iPhone. Instead a unique Device Account Number is assigned to each payment method and encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element. No other app or part of the iPhone’s hardware –– other than the Touch ID –– can grant access this Secure Element.
The only way the Secure Element can be unlocked is by using the Touch ID. And unless you’ve let someone else register their fingerprints on your iPhone, the chances are next to nothing that someone could fake your fingerprint to unlock your device and the Secure Element using Touch ID. And without a fingerprint authentication, paying for a transaction via Apple Pay will not work.
Tokenisation Adds Even More Security
Speaking of paying via Apple Pay...Apple has added more security into that part of its mobile wallet too. When you make a payment using Apple Pay, the aforementioned Device Account Number of your payment method is combined with a “transaction-specific dynamic security code” to create a token that is the only number shared with the merchant. This token is enough to approve the transaction but that’s literally it. The merchant never gets access to your credit or debit card number, its CVV code, or even your name.
See what I mean when I say Apple Pay is secure? But still, if your iPhone 6 is lost or stolen it just may give you peace of mind to wipe your payment methods from it anyway. Here’s how to do that...
How To Remotely Wipe Your Credit And Debit Cards From Apple Pay
Log into iCloud.com with your iCloud user name and password that is associated with the lost or stolen iPhone or iPad you want to remotely wipe your credit and debit cards from.
Click the Settings icon.
Under the “My Devices” header you’ll see a list of all your registered Apple devices. Any that support Apple Pay will have a small Apple Pay logo next to the name of the device. Click on the device that you want to remove your credit and debit cards from.
On the device details screen you’ll see a list of all the credit and debit cards loaded onto that device. Below them you’ll see a blue “Remove All...” link. Click it.
In the dialog box that appears you’ll be asked if you are sure you want to remove all your cards on the device. Click the Remove button to do so.
A few notes about removing your credit and debit cards this way:
It may take a few minutes to remove all your cards from your device.
You cannot remove just a single card. Remote removal is all or none.
You can add the removed cards to the same device again if you find it later. To do so you just need to go through the normal Apple Pay setup procedure.
Removing cards from your device does not cancel the cards with your bank or credit card issuer.
Removing cards from your device does not notify your bank or credit card issuer in any way. If you want to cancel your cards you still need to contact your bank or credit card issuer.
Or You Can Go Nuclear...
The above steps only show you how to remove debit and credit cards from a lost or stolen iPhone. Everything else on your missing device will remain in place. But if your iOS device really has been stolen it’s best to pull out the nuclear option and not just wipe the credit and debit card info from your device, but wipe EVERYTHING from it.
To do that simply go to iCloud.com as per the steps above, but instead click the Find My iPhone button. Click on your device and then click the Erase button. Confirm you want to erase your device and every single thing on it will be erased, including your Apple Pay payment methods. But know that erasing your iPhone in this manner means you won’t be able to track its location any longer.