5 Critical Things to Know About Mobile Banking

Our smartphones make life so much easier, but they can also make it easier for hackers who want to steal financial information. Here's what you need to know.

5 Critical Things to Know About Mobile Banking Photo by SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock.com

Banks take your security seriously and spend millions every year safeguarding their sites, but that doesn’t mean your data couldn’t be vulnerable. To protect your online financial information, here are tips for smarter banking with your smartphone.

1. Avoid using public Wi-Fi

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Public Wi-Fi networks typically don’t require logons or passwords and are therefore more vulnerable to hackers who are ready to tap into your financial data.

This is less likely to happen if you’re using a secure home or work Wi-Fi network. Confirm that your connection is secure by looking for a little padlock symbol in the corner of your web browser’s URL window. This lock means the page is encrypted or has an extra layer of security to protect your financial information.

Using your carrier’s cellular network is also a better option than public Wi-Fi because your carrier’s network also uses encryption to protect your information.

2. Set a unique password

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Most of us set strong passwords — we avoid the obvious, we use the careful mix of symbols, numbers and letter — but fail to create unique passwords for all of our accounts.

Ask yourself how many passwords you really use. Most likely, your Facebook or email password is the same as your mobile banking one — which makes it easy for hackers to access all of your accounts.

Keep your banking password unique and update it regularly.

3. Avoid an obvious username

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If your banking username is your home or email address, it’s time to change it. A good username is easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess so stay clear of the obvious and avoid family names — even your pet’s name that you may have shared with your Facebook buddies.

Usernames should be unique as well. Using the same username (and password) for more than one account risks multiple exposures if one site you use is hacked.

Also, as an extra layer of protection, do not opt to save your banking username. Yes, it’s one less step for you, but it’s also one less step for whoever happens to be rummaging around your phone if you lose it.

4. Keep your mobile banking app updated

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Most banks invest heavily in the security of their mobile applications so it’s important to keep them up-to-date. The latest update will offer the latest security.

Be sure also that you are using your financial institution’s official app and only download apps from reputable sources like iTunes or Google Play. Your bank’s site should have more information on how to access its mobile application and specific security information.

5. Never leave your device unlocked

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To protect your financial information in case your phone is lost or stolen, be sure your phone is set to require a password to power on the device and to unlock it.

Also, whether you are using the bank website or the mobile banking app, do not let it automatically log you in to your bank account. If your phone is lost or stolen, call your bank immediately to deactivate your account.

Are you using mobile banking and if so, do you take any or all of the precautions listed above? Share your experience in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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