So you use a mobile phone or tablet as a calendar, credit card, map and storage for voicemail, texts and photos. Who doesn’t? You may soon do all your finances and banking via smart phone too.
Skeptical? Mobile banking with a digital wallet or payment app might actually be more secure than writing a check, since a written check encounters many more humans viewing the transaction.
But beware. Mobile devices and your stored data make especially easy prey—easier than desktop computers. Hackers launch thousands of remote attacks daily. Plus, phones are easy to steal – more than 1 million in the U.S. disappear annually, according to a Federal Communications Commission report. And, thieves can get enough info to impersonate you to your bank.
Just 10 years ago, you walked into a bank to do important financial tasks. Today, accessing financial services by smart phone is common. Referred to as FinTech, this encompasses everything from daily financial banking needs and simple savings apps to crowdfunding donations, digital wallets to pay friends and investing robo-advisors. FinTech is just beginning to change your life. A recent American Bankers Association survey indicates one of out three Americans used a mobile device for banking tasks in the last year, including:
- Deposit checks
- View account balances
- Transfer funds
- Pay bills
- Refinance a loan
- Invest by robo-advisor
You can protect yourself from theft and mobile banking fraud with these nine tips:
- Is the link safe? According to Lookout.com, 4 in 10 mobile device users will click on an unsafe link this year. Never click on links you receive in a text message, especially ones that come from unknown numbers. When you receive an email that appears to be from your bank, check closely because many are fake links. If anything looks suspicious, delete it and don’t enter personal information. You don’t have to use the provided link—instead, type the URL in yourself.
- Is your network secure? It’s tempting, but never do mobile banking from public Wi-Fi, where hackers easily “sniff” or intercept your data. Use a secured, private Wi-Fi connection, or switch to cellular data before logging into your accounts.
- Is your account compromised? One of the main advantages to mobile banking is the convenience in monitoring accounts. So as a user, your most frequent action should be to check accounts to see that no fraudulent transactions appear.
- Is this banking app the “official” one? Before downloading a mobile banking app, check your bank’s website to see if it is officially from the bank. It is possibly a fake site, not sanctioned by your bank. Even a bank’s fraud alerts can be spoofed.
- Are your other apps safe? Mobile phones are not mini computers, but they use applications—apps—with similar code. It’s not a securely designed code, so it’s easy for clever lookalikes to secretly redirect passwords, payments, and account numbers. Beware of pirated apps that offer a free version of an app that usually has a fee. Only download apps from your device’s app store. These are scanned for malware before they are made public. Android devices allow users to download from external sources, however, and these apps could be corrupted by malware.
- Are your apps up-to-date? Apps are frequently updated to fix bugs and provided added security. Make sure you have downloaded the latest updates to your app to ensure your device is secure.
- Is your device secure? If you decide to bank on a mobile device, it is important to use the security measures suggested. Set a password for your device so if it is lost or stolen, someone cannot access information stored on your phone.
- Did you log out? When you finish your mobile banking tasks, make sure you log out of your account. It is never wise to stay logged into any online account.
- What should your bank do to make mobile banking safe for customers? Banks take many precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable banking experience, such as the bank URL should begin with “https” (not “http”) and alerting you of suspicious transactions. Contact your bank to see how your accounts are protected.
We are clearly addicted to our smart phones, so be prepared to protect yours.