7 Rules for Safe, Secure Mobile Banking

By Mike Peterson
In May 5, 2015

7 Rules for Safe, Secure Mobile Banking

If you have a smartphone, chances are good that you use a mobile app to do some of your banking – and with good reason.  Mobile banking makes it super-easy to stay on top of your finances from anywhere, and at any time.  But when you take your finances mobile, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t sacrificing security for the sake of convenience.

Want to ensure a safe, secure mobile banking experience?  Here are seven tips for banking from a smartphone or mobile device:

  1. Be wary of fake banking apps. Due to the risk of fraud, your phone provider’s app store is not the best place to download banking or finance-related apps.  Scammers can create some fairly legit-looking apps that look just like the real deal from your bank – and if you download the wrong one, you may not know until you’ve shared your password, account number, or other sensitive information.  The best way to ensure that you’re using the real app is to sidestep the app store and download the app directly from your bank’s website.
  2. Don’t ignore updates. Updates are easy to overlook, especially when they seem to pop up a few times in a month.  But when you’re dealing with mobile banking, every update is important – the latest version of your banking app may contain critical improvements, like fixes for bugs or security issues.  Think of it this way:  An out-of-date app is a less-than-secure app.
  3. Make sure your phone is password protected. Smartphones are great because they’re like little computers, giving us access to things like email and banking wherever we go.  But if your smartphone is lost or stolen, you could be putting your sensitive information into the wrong hands.  That’s why it’s critical to protect your smartphone with a challenging password.

And while we’re on the subject of passwords . . .

  1. Don’t store your banking/financial username and password. Most mobile banking apps give you the option to store your username and password.  Sure, it’s convenient when you don’t have to go to the trouble of entering your name and password every time you log on to your account – but if your phone is lost or stolen, that convenience can work against you (especially if your phone isn’t password protected).
  2. Making a mobile deposit? Expect a delay.  Chances are good that your banking app has a mobile deposit feature, which allows you to deposit a check by simply signing it and taking a photo of the front and back.  This feature eliminates the need for a trip to the bank, which is a big win in my book.  But there is one downside to mobile deposits:  Wait time.  Unlike a deposit that you make with a teller or at your bank’s ATM, a check deposited via a mobile app may take an extra day or two to clear.  In most situations, this probably isn’t a deal-breaker – but if you need access to that money right away, you might be better off driving to the bank.
  3. Be aware of public Wi-Fi and poor reception. A good rule of mobile banking is, if you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network, don’t log in to your account.  Public Wi-Fi is typically not very secure – so you run a greater risk of your private, sensitive information being compromised.  This is also a good rule to follow if you’re on a network with bad reception:  A bad connection means a greater risk that your information isn’t going where it should.
  4. Getting rid of your old phone? Make sure you get rid of your data.  Smartphones aren’t exactly cheap, and it’s not unusual for people to sell their old phones when it comes time for an upgrade.  But before you hand your older phone over to someone else, it’s very important to make sure that it is 100% free of any sensitive information, particularly financial information.  Remove your SIM card and do a quick Google search to find out how to wipe out stored data (the process is pretty simple but it’s different depending on whether you use an iPhone or an Android).  Planning on recycling your phone? Follow the same guidelines.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll get the best of both worlds: The ultra-convenient, benefits of mobile banking, plus the peace of mind that comes with following safe, responsible banking.  Isn’t technology great?

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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