Protecting Your Mobile and Online Banking Activities

I was not long ago that the only way to deposit or withdraw money from your bank account required a time consuming visit to your local branch office. Then came the ATM machine, which laid the groundwork for quick and easy electronic banking. Today, we have numerous options for managing our money — from checking account balances and initiating transfers to depositing checks with the snap of a picture.

Online Banking from your home laptop, tablet or smartphone is catching on fast, with more than half of all adults in the U.S. already relying on digital banking to keep track of regular checking and savings accounts. But how safe is it? What if you lost your phone, could someone steal your money or identity with the swipe of a finger?

Banks go through a number of methods to secure your information, including SSL encryptions and multi-layered authentications, unfortunately, even the most up-to-date security measures aren’t 100 percent effective. Thankfully there are steps you can take to keep your banking information safe.

Here are six tips to help you minimize any threats to your identity or financial information when banking online or on the go. These extra layers of security can make the online or mobile banking process that much safer.

6 Tips for Safe Online and Mobile Banking

1. Always Log In From a Secure Location

Before you log in to your bank website or open that app on your smartphone, check the security of your internet access point. You might be tempted to check your balance or snap that check while you grab a quick drink at a coffee shop, however, it is best to avoid using unsecured wireless networks to access your online accounts. Public Wi-Fi connections are easy for thieves to interceptand collect the information you are using to log in.

Only access your bank accounts when you are certain you have a secure connection. Pick a password secured Wi-Fi network or disable the Wi-Fi and switch to your trusted cellular network.

  • Keep Your Antivirus and Security System Up to Date

Whether you are using a computer or mobile device to access the Internet, make sure to instal and run appropriate antivirus protections, then keep your system up-to-date. If you are on a home computer, ensure your firewalls are turned on so you can avoid malicious sites. And speak with your cellular carrier for special security apps aimed at tracking and/or disabling your mobile device if it is lost or stolen.

  • Use Only Official Encrypted Websites and Mobile Banking Apps

Now it’s time to log in to your bank accounts. Many banks offer customers an official, well encrypted, banking website or mobile app. When online banking, ensure your login is secured on an encrypted connection by checking the URL — it should read “https” for ‘secure’. For apps, avoid downloading a ‘fake’ banking app by heading to your bank’s website for a direct link to their official mobile app.

  • Use Strong, Confidential Passwords and Change Them Frequently

First of all, never save your passwords for your banking app or websites; this ensures you must input your password or authentication to launch the account viewer. Additionally, you will want to set unique and strong passwords for each site.

Avoid using common words, phrases or birthdates. Instead, opt for a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols; for example: Pa$$w0rd. And change these passwords every few months for extra security.

5. Monitor Your Bank Accounts Frequently

Get into the habit of monitoring your bank accounts on a regular basis so you can catch and report any fraudulent or suspicious activity right away. Anytime you do any shopping ensure that each transaction was charged appropriately and check back every few days; this was vital for helping consumers victimized by the Target data breach.

6. Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing refers to the practice of tricking someone into revealing private information, usually through fraudulent emails and websites. Phishing emails redirect you to a malicious website or ‘fake’ version of your bank’s website and are designed to collect your username, password, and other personal information which can be used to access your financial accounts.

While your bank may send you email alerts and updates, but they will NEVER solicit your financial information via email. In addition, you don’t have to click through the links on the emails to access your account. It is much safer to manually enter and access your accounts through the official website directly. If you think your bank needs to contact you over a serious matter, call them directly to verify whether they sent you an email or if they need to get in touch with you.

Convenience Requires Comprehensive Security Measures

Online banking is not without its risks, but it is possible to minimize those risks with multiple layers of human and tech security. Be cautious when storing usernames and passwords, make sure you are logging in to your financial institution’s official encrypted site or app from a secured access point, and use up-to-date antivirus software on all of your devices.

Whether checking your account balances, transferring funds, or depositing a check, online banking is a convenient way to manage your personal finances. Don’t be scared off from using your mobile device to access your bank accounts. Just be sure to practice good, safe behaviors and keep track of your gadgets. With a little common sense and attention, mobile banking can be both convenient and secure.

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