More tips on safe mobile bankingWhen done properly, online banking can provide a safe and convenient platform with which to conduct and manage financial transactions. But recent threats have shown that criminals are able to hack into just about any computer, including yours, and get information that doesn’t belong to them. In this blog we focus on how to protect your mobile banking device.

Take precautions to guard your device
The FDIC’s Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Khalil recommends mobile bankers “always secure the device with a strong PIN or password in case the device falls into the wrong hands.” This ‘strong PIN’ should never be written down in an obvious place. If someone were to steal your device this passcode may be all that keeps them from taking over your identity.

One of the best ways to secure your mobile device is to utilize its password feature in conjunction with an “auto-lock” or time-out setting. For example, set your phone or mobile device to automatically lock in 2 minutes of inactivity. That way a user will have to tap in the secure access code to even begin using the device’s apps.

Most phones and tablets allow users to utilize a passcode that is not just 4 numbers, but rather a “strong” combination of letters and numbers that are not easy to guess. By using upper and lower case letters, or by using a numerical code with no specific order, it will be much more difficult for someone to guess your password, should the device fall into the wrong hands. It is better to use different passwords for different devices, and to change these passwords periodically. Under no circumstance should you ever give these passwords to anyone, and you should also never leave these devices unattended.

Be Wary of Where You Do Your Business
One of the biggest ways you can expose your information on the web is by completing transactions on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as a connection at a coffee shop or internet café. Because these sites are open to a majority of people, hackers and fraud artists have much easier access to the connections and to your account.

Take Extra Care if Your Device is Stolen
If your device is lost or stolen, immediately contact your bank and card providers to report the missing device and to prevent possible fraud and unauthorized transactions. Some phones or other devices actually have remote access capabilities that allow you to erase sensitive data if your device is lost or stolen, so also check with your wireless provider to see if they can provide this service.

Do Your Homework on Apps
Never assume that any app, despite its name or professional appearance, is what it claims to be. Some con artists create fraudulent apps to trick users into believing it’s a legitimate service. To avoid getting duped, remember that the best place to download apps, especially from a banking site, is on the bank’s own web page. You can often protect these apps with a password, but make sure to make it different from your device’s main password.

Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Emails, No Matter Who They’re From
Some scams will email you from fake bank sites attempting to get your personal information. These emails usually include an urgent plea that the bank needs your passwords or security numbers to verify an account, while others offer too good to be true deals which are designed to get you to give your information to a fake website.

The principles to safe online banking are fairly simple. The most important part of secure mobile banking is to think differently, balance the risk and the convenience factors. By making sure your devices are secure and being wary of what you download or open on your device you will be far more successful in protecting yourself from online identity thieves.

For more information on protecting yourself from identity theft, visit the FDIC’s website or check out our other recent blog on how to avoid scams.