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Security Tips for Mobile Banking

Thanks to mobile versions of websites and dedicated smartphone applications, banks are making it easier than ever for customers to check their balances, transfer money and even pay bills through the smartphones in their purses and pockets. As of midway through 2012, a full 57% of U.S. smartphone owners use their device for some form of mobile banking. All customers need to access these features 24/7 is a smartphone and an internet connection.

While these services can be quite convenient for some, the fact that an internet connection is required makes it seem quite unsafe to others – and there’s good reason to believe this. Since smartphones are basically compact hand-held computers, they are just as vulnerable to viruses and data theft, which, when it comes to banking information, could result in disastrous consequences.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when banking with your mobile device to help keep both your data and your money safe.

  • Avoid using public networks while banking. While free, open Wi-Fi is really handy when getting caffeinated at your local coffee shop or grabbing a quick bite at lunch (and is often much faster than 3G data connections), you never know who else may be using and monitoring these networks. When conducting financial activities, try to avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots and opt for cellular data networks instead.
  • Do not follow links in unsolicited emails or text messages; these are often phishing attempts that lead you to pages that might look like your usual online banking website, but are just fronts to steal your personal banking information. It is safer to type your bank’s web address directly into a browser and bookmark it or use the institution’s official app if at all possible.
  • Be very cautious when you decide to download a file or app. Some available apps – even in the curated app stores –contain malware which can access your information through a key logger that tracks every number and letter you type and then later sends your precious data out to the scam artists through a text message or email. Do a little research next time you want to download an app to make sure the developer is legitimate.
  • Finally, keep track of your mobile device! It may seem like a no-brainer but maintaining possession of your device is important to ensure your banking data doesn’t fall into the hands of criminals. Keep it somewhere safe, within eyesight and make use of the security features your smartphone offers, such as entering a PIN or tracing a pattern to unlock it. If your phone does end up in the wrong hands, these simple security codes are likely to prevent the crooks from accessing your data before you can declare the theft.

Following these tips should keep you and your financial institution happy and help maintain the convenience and ease of mobile banking until the next great innovation.

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