Top Security Tips for Banking with Your Smartphone

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Our smartphones have made our lives so much easier in the past decade that you almost wonder how you survived without one. From getting directions while you are traveling, ordering dinner, and ordering tickets to a concert, you have just about everything right at your fingertips.

With all these advancements, financial services have met modern mobile technology, too. With smartphone apps, you can view your balance, pay bills, transfer money between accounts, and much more. You want to make sure you keep your phone protected, particularly when you're using it to view your banking account.

To make your mobile banking experience secure, follow these tips to minimize the possibility of your account information getting in the wrong hands.

Use a mix of words, numbers, and special characters to create a strong password. Put a reminder on your phone to change your password at least once every two months.

Secure Your Device

If you misplace, lose, or have your phone stolen, you will want to keep minimal details on your phone. Therefore, you don't want to store your passwords for your different accounts on your smartphone. You will also want to make sure you have the security settings on your smartphone activated and password protected.

Be sure to download and install remote data wiping software, so, if necessary, you can remotely delete the data on your phone. When you sell, recycle, or trade in your phone, ensure you have deleted all your personal details beforehand.

If you aren't using the tethering, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi on your phone, turn it off to avoid someone trying to access your phone through those features. Wi-Fi hot spots seem to be available everywhere you go. Limit yourself to using hot spots that are password protected and are reputable.

While it may be tempting to "jailbreak" your smartphone, it's recommended to avoid this at all costs. Jailbreaking can leave your smartphone vulnerable to malware. Especially with an Android device, you will want to avoid opening attachments or downloading apps that come from untrusted sources.

Your Password Game needs to Level Up

Don't ever use a password such as "123456" or "Password" since these are some of the most common passwords out there.

You might be tempted to use your personal information for your password because it's easy to remember, but using your birthday or the name of you daughter will be easy for someone to find out. Other passwords to avoid include your mother's maiden name, the name of your past schools, and the same password you use for your other accounts.

Use a mix of words, numbers, and special characters to create a strong password. Put a reminder on your phone to remind you to change your password at least once every two months. With a lot of types of accounts, you can set up a two-factor authentication. That will make it, so you have to enter your password and a pin number that is typically texted to you.

It can be hard to remember all those different passwords, so you may want to look into a password manager. You can create one strong password and have the manager generate secure passwords for all the sites you visit and keep track of them. This keeps your accounts secure and prevents you from having to remember all that login information.

Breakup with Your Browser

If you are using your smartphone's web browser to access your banking information, it's time to change your ways. If you forget to log out when you're done, your information could be readily accessible somebody if your device is stolen.

Almost all banks now offer a mobile app you can download to access your account. These apps have an extra layer of security with an extra PIN or TouchID to keep your information even more safe. While smartphones aren't completely invulnerable to hacking, they are much more difficult for criminals to exploit.

Your bank app will also enable you to perform more functions that your browser is capable of from your device. For instance, you can deposit your checks directly from your mobile app versus having to take it down to a physical branch, and you can do this 24 hour a day and seven days a week.

Get Wise to Phishing

We've all received an email or text message that looks like spam. Phishing is one of the most common tactics hackers use to get access to personal information. A lot of times, these emails will appear to come from a legitimate company. The email will make it seem like you have to act now in order to resolve an issue or claim a prize.

There are ways you can check to see if the email is actually a phishing scam. The easiest way is to look at the sender's email address. While the sender may have the word, "Apple" or "Microsoft" in the address, there are probably several other characters as well. So, if the domain name isn't completely correct, it's most likely not from the company it's claiming to be representing.

The biggest thing to remember is a company is not going to ask you to share your personal information via an email or have it reset through a link. If you're still having trouble identifying if the email is legit, reach out to the company directly.

Trust No One

Treat your smartphone like it's your wallet, and don't allow anyone to "make a quick phone call". Keep your phone where it's visible to you at all times. This doesn't mean you should just keep it sitting out on the table while you're out eating. Keep it secure in your pocket or purse if possible. You just never know if someone might try to swipe it and you might not be fast enough to react if that happens.

When you are using your phone to access your account, be aware of your surroundings, especially when you are in a public place. Someone could be looking over your shoulders and steal your personal data without you even noticing. It's best to view your banking information in a private space where nobody can see your screen.