Can you trust mobile banking apps? How to stay as safe as possible when banking on your phone.
By Andrew Marder
Many are suspicious of banking applications. Here are three things that will help you.
This article has been reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.
Americans embraced mobile banking as access to their main accounts more than any other method from 2017 to 2021, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s 2021 Report of Unbanked or Underbanked Households.
However, a new NerdWallet survey finds that many people are reluctant to use mobile banking due to security concerns. More than 2 in 5 (42%) bank customers who don’t use mobile banking apps say they don’t trust their security as a reason.
While these concerns are unfounded, they need not be between you and a successful mobile banking life. Here are steps you can take to make sure you’re as safe as possible when banking on your phone.
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Install only trusted apps
Most mobile users run on Android or iOS, both of which have app stores. For people with iPhones, it’s the Apple App Store (AAPL), while Android users get the Google (GOOGL) Play Store. These app stores are the go-to places to find reliable and secure apps.
Google offers apps that are certified by its Play Protect system. Play Protect scans for apps added to your phone and can remove or deactivate potentially harmful apps. It can also warn you about apps that violate Google’s Unwanted Software Policy, which governs the transparency and usability of apps.
If you are in doubt which mobile banking app to install, go directly to your bank’s website on your phone. Most banks will provide a link to the official app in the app store of your choice. If it’s not your bank, call them to make sure you get the app you need.
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Use two-factor authentication when available
Even Americans who use mobile banking apps — nearly three-quarters (74%) of users — have concerns about mobile banking, according to a NerdWallet survey. Of those, 63% said they worried about their account being hacked.
One of the best ways to keep your bank accounts secure, no matter how you bank, is to have a strong, unique password – “ILoveCats!” do not count. With a strong password, you can add a second layer of protection with two-factor authentication, or 2FA.
Two-factor authentication is like door authentication in an apartment building. Just having the key won’t get you into the apartment because the person at the door doesn’t let anyone they don’t know in without references.
With two-factor authentication (2FA), you’ll have an additional security step enabled. Often, this means receiving a text or email with a separate code when you log into your account. Requiring a text means no one can log into your account without also having access to your phone.
According to a NerdWallet survey, 38% of mobile banking app users are concerned about someone accessing their bank account if their phone is lost or stolen.
Related: Take advantage of these useful features in your bank’s app
Manage access to your phone
To keep strangers off your phone, make sure you have a strong lock screen PIN, lock your screen whenever you’re done using your phone and don’t share your PIN with anyone.
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But even if you do your best not to lose your phone — which could also be your wallet, house key, ID card, and transit card — accidents will happen. If your phone is lost or stolen, contact your bank. Just like with a lost credit card, letting your bank know early can help you avoid problems.
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Andrew Marder writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]
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