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Safer mobile banking

Mobile technology can be a wonderfully handy tool for doing banking on the go. Whether you want to check your balance to buy those shoes, transfer funds to help a friend out, or to, ugh, pay the gas bill. As long as you have a mobile phone or a tablet connected to the internet, you’re in the game. Sure it’s convenient, but you also need to be aware of the potential risks that come with using mobile devices and ensure you protect yourself. Here’s nine ways to keep your money safe while using your mobile device that you can take to the bank!

1. Three strikes and you’re out

Banks are required to make mobile banking a safe and secure method of managing your money so they build in strong software security measures in apps to protect accounts. The most basic of these is the lock-out, where you only get so many attempts to enter a correct PIN or password. Then there’s the time-out, due to inactivity while using the app. There’s no need to take it personally if you get locked out while fiddling around or entering the wrong details. These safeguards are there in case it’s not actually you doing the fiddling. There’s usually a time limit indicated when you can make another attempt or you may have to contact the bank.

2. Strength, not just in numbers

When setting up a password, make sure it’s hard for others to guess. A strong password is considered to be eight or more characters long, made up of numbers, letters and symbols. While there’s sooo many passwords to remember these days, try to avoid using the same password for multiple sites. And of course keep your PIN or password confidential. Making sure you have password/PIN locks on your phone and its SIM card too will help.

3. Mind your own business

Gathering information about your identity can lead online criminals to access your bank accounts. Ways this can happen include receiving a text message, email or a pop-up ad on your mobile device. Any of these can direct you to a fake website (that can look quite real) that wants some information from you. You could also receive a fake phone survey with questions that try to trick you into revealing personal details. The best thing to do is keep your personal details to yourself. And bear in mind that your bank will never contact you via text or email to request personal information; nor should you send it.

4. The lowdown on downloading

You should only use your bank’s official app, downloaded an official app store or from the bank’s website itself. Online browsing may unwittingly make you vulnerable to online malware or viruses that will infect your phone or computer. And you could inadvertently download software that is able to monitor what websites you visit and record your keystrokes. It’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re unsure about downloading something.

5. Share and share alike, not

On social networking sites where you share information with friends and family, beware of website scams with ‘too good to be true’ offers. The golden rule is that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Take care with the personal information you post online or that you share in emails or via text. Sending passwords, account information or ID details is a no-no unless you’re signing into your bank’s secure official app.

6. Never in public

Another rule to live by is to never use public WIFI for accessing a bank app. Public WIFI, such as those in shopping malls, is not a secure internet connection so opportunistic criminals can potentially ‘see’ what you’re doing online. In busy areas when you’re out and about, it’s also worth checking over your shoulder to see who might be looking your way before you enter details into the banking app on your phone.

7. Be alert, get alerts

You can sign up with your bank for account alerts for when there is activity on your account. This way you can quickly spot fraudulent charges or withdrawals and notify your bank. But don’t let this be an excuse for not checking through your statements. Often criminals who have managed to get your bank details will do a small test withdrawal to see if anyone’s watching and will later take much more.

8. Proactively protect

Make sure you download the updates for your mobile phone or tablet. These can contain fixes for potential security breaches. Being lax about updates can leave you vulnerable to hackers trying to exploit any software weaknesses. Prevention is better they say than cure.

9. Keep it clean

It’s best to regularly delete text messages from your bank that are on your mobile. And delete the cache for website browsing as this holds pages from websites you’ve visited. Also, we know it’s common sense, but don’t keep account or password details on your phone or tablet.

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