People who use mobile devices to make payments could lose big bucks if someone else runs up fraudulent charges on a lost or stolen phone, Consumers Union reported this month.

Mobile payments are a way to make purchases by sending a text message or using a downloaded app. They're typically linked to credit or debit cards, a bank account, gift or prepaid cards, or the purchases can be put on your phone bill.

Wireless carriers have widely varying protections for users who make mobile payments, according to the study by Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. Transactions linked to credit cards have the strongest protections, while other payment methods could leave consumers responsible for fraudulent charges.

Consumers Union called on cellphone carriers to include stronger safeguards for mobile payments in their contracts with consumers.

Go to for more information and tips on safe mobile payment practices.