Six Ways to Stay Safe When Using Banking Apps on Your Mobile Device

Six Ways to Stay Safe When Using Banking Apps on Your Mobile Device
By Stephen Ebbett

Mobile banking is incredibly convenient, allowing users to pay bills, keep tabs on accounts and deposit checks, all from a smartphone or tablet, wherever they are. It’s no wonder more people are taking advantage of mobile banking options: Around 20% of US consumers report they’ve used their mobile phones for banking, according to a Knowledge Networks survey. People between the ages of 18 and 29 are even more likely to use mobile banking services: 40% of younger consumers say they’ve used them.

But that convenience comes with a price: Mobile banking app users who don’t take proper security precautions can expose themselves to identity theft risks. According to an Aite Group survey, nearly 90% of financial services risk executives said they are concerned mobile banking could increase financial services fraud. However, there are some basic safety measures that can reduce the risks. Here are some tips to help you bank more securely on your mobile device:

  • Don’t conduct banking on an unsecured network: You’ll likely be okay to use a free WiFi connection at a coffee shop or airport to check the news or update your Facebook page, but make sure you’re on a secure connection before you conduct online banking.
  • Set up a device password: Many people don’t bother to set passwords on their mobile phone or tablet, meaning anyone who picks it up can access all their data. Make sure you set up a password to activate your phone or tablet, especially if you use the device to conduct mobile banking. Having a password in place won’t interfere with your ability to answer calls.
  • Don’t save your banking app password or ID on your smartphone: Many apps give users the option to save passwords or IDs. It can save a few seconds, but if your device is lost or stolen, you’ll spend hours closing accounts and contesting bogus charges. Decline to save the password and ID, and make sure you sign out of the app after each session.
  • Tell your bank immediately if your smartphone or tablet is lost or stolen: If you use a mobile app to do your banking, let your bank know if your tablet or smartphone goes missing. Even if you have a strong password and don’t save your ID or cookies, a missing smartphone or tablet poses a major identity theft risk.
  • Watch out for phishing scams: Reputable banks will never ask a customer to provide account information over the phone or via email or text, so if you receive a message asking for this information, you can safely assume it is fraudulent. Never click links included in a message asking for this type of information.
  • Keep your virus protection software up to date: Don’t assume that because your mobile device came with anti-virus software, it’s safe. Hackers devise new ways to target mobile phone users all the time, so make sure your mobile security protection is current. When you receive a notice of a new release, take the time to update your app.
Mobile banking apps can make depositing checks as easy as snapping a photo and save users a lot of time and hassles. But the apps give hackers another channel to target users for identity theft. By using common sense, consumers can avoid most of the risks associated with mobile banking. Keep these tips in mind to bank safely on your mobile device.

Stephen Ebbett is President of ProtectYourBubble, a new kind of insurance brand that understands that 21st century lives are busy and complicated and offers an online service that makes insurance simple and uncomplicated. Protect Your Bubble offers a range of products, such as identity theft protection, that has been specifically tailored to offer protection in a fast changing, modern world, so that customers are prepared if the unexpected happens, with the coverage and support they need in place and immediately available. 

Photo Credit: SimpleIllustrations via Photo Pin | Creative Commons