Mobile banking is a convenience that saves users time and money. However, transacting online comes with risks that can threaten your finances. Learn about online banking risks and what precautions you can take to keep your money and personal data safe as you enjoy the benefits of mobile banking.
Risks of Mobile Banking
Mobile banking requires information to travel over the internet between the customer and the bank. This means that hackers can potentially access sensitive data and use it to empty your bank accounts. If you conduct transactions using mobile apps, scammers can use various techniques to steal your passwords and other personal information.
Additional mobile banking risks include:
- Account takeovers
- Mobile fraud
- Identity theft
- Data breaches
- Malware attacks
How to Bank Safely Online
Following a few mobile banking best practices and being aware of the different scams can help you avoid malicious actors and keep your funds safe.
Hide your IP address
Your IP address is equivalent to your street address. It is a string of numbers that identify your device on the internet. An IP address is necessary for communicating with other devices, including banking networks.
While hackers can’t uncover your identity through your IP address, they can spoof a banking app to trick you into giving them your login information. Once they have this information, they can access your account and take your money. Masking your IP address can prevent hackers from accessing your banking communications.
To hide your IP address, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs are services that mask your IP by allowing your internet traffic to pass through an encrypted tunnel. Your IP’s location becomes undetectable to all users and lets you safely conduct business with your bank.
Although you should avoid using a public Wi-Fi connection for banking transactions, a VPN can safeguard your mobile banking security, making it harder for hackers to see what you are doing.
A drawback to using a VPN is that it can make your data too secure, preventing your bank or credit union from recognizing that you are trying to log into your account, so you may have to take a few extra steps to verify your identity.
Use multi-factor authentication
Most mobile banking apps offer multi-factor authentication. This is an extra precaution to ensure you are the only one with access to your banking services. This works by placing an additional authentication step when logging into your online banking system.
There are different ways multi-factor authentication works. The first is to install an authentication app on your phone. Installing an authentication app on your phone requires you to input an extra piece of information to verify your identity. This information acts as a secondary password and is usually a 6-digit number you must enter during your banking app login.
The second multi-factor authentication measure is to bank with a lender, which requires you to enter a unique code when you log in to your account. Banks typically send the code to your email or phone, where only you can access it. Usually, financial institutions such as online banks offer encryption protection and more than one multi-factor authentication option.
Keep your password safe
Choosing a solid password keeps hackers from using special software to guess their way into your account. Following the bank’s guidelines on choosing a strong password should help you develop a string of characters that are difficult to hack.
To ensure your password stays private, never share your passwords with anyone. Also, avoid saving them where hackers can access them like in an online document or email. Saving your password on your mobile, tablet, or laptop can be risky due to scammers’ ability to hack into devices. If you choose to store your passwords on web-connected devices, use a strong anti-virus program.
Alternatively, you can elect to use a password manager like LastPass. These services save your passwords on encrypted digital storage space. The password manager tool allows you to log into your bank accounts without worrying about hackers stealing your credentials from your device.
Protect your devices
Even if you cover your digital tracks, you still need to protect your devices. Mobile banking scams can often involve physical theft of devices or actions criminals commit in person. Scammers may install malware on your device or steal your mobile phone.
To protect against physical threats to your mobile banking security, take precautions to make your device useless in the hands of a criminal. You can start by password-protecting your mobile. Without a passcode, your phone’s contents are easily accessible to anyone with the device.
If you set a six to eleven-digit passcode, you make it more difficult for criminals to access your information. An eleven-digit passcode offers optimal protection if your phone finds its way into the hands of a criminal.
You can also consider installing a mobile tracking app on your device. As long as your phone is turned on, the tracker app lets you see its location. Having this information can make it easier for you to file a police report in an attempt to retrieve your device and ensure your data remains safe.
Phishing is the act of obtaining your usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information by pretending to be from your bank, government entity, or other organization. This scam targets users’ habits with funds transfers and may invoke a sense of urgency with consequences if you don’t pay.
Phishing scammers go to great lengths to deceive their victims. They may use your bank’s logo or name to convince you that an email is from your financial institution. Phishing emails often include offers that sound too good to be true, telling you that you’ve won the lottery or a special account has been set up in your name. They may include links where you can visit a website to enter your personal information.
To protect yourself from phishing scams, avoid opening emails from any banks or financial institutions you don’t know. If you open an email, avoid clicking on links within the email and don’t open attachments. Watch for strange spelling or grammatical errors, as these signs indicate a scammer is at work. If you receive an unknown email, the best action is to contact your bank directly and ask if they send the communication.
You can also protect your banking information from phishing scammers by only shopping on secure websites. You can tell a website is secure by viewing the letters at the beginning of the web address. If the address says “HTTPS,” it is securely encrypted. The “s” in HTTPS stands for “Secure Sockets Layer (SSL),” which is an encryption method used by secure websites.
Stay Safe When Banking Online
Online financial transactions differ from depositing checks at a brick-and-mortar branch. You need to take precautions that alert you in real-time when a criminal is attempting to defraud you.
Use the tools banks and credit unions have in place to guarantee a productive and safe customer experience. At Finance is us, you can learn how to protect your online bank account from fraud and choose a banking institution with high encryption features.
Disclaimer: All content on this site is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular entity or individual, nor is the information a substitute for professional financial advice and services.