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6 Safety Tips for Mobile Bank Customers

The convenience and security of mobile banking have attracted hundreds of millions of users. Mobile banking has also improved global financial inclusion by giving traditionally unbanked populations access to financial instruments.

Despite the enormous benefits of mobile banking technologies, users must remain vigilant about protecting their sensitive information. Experts have noted that mobile bank-related fraud is on the rise. Consumers can protect themselves and their finances by practicing the following safety tips:

1. Be Aware of Common Scams

Fraudsters work overtime to find loopholes and security flaws in mobile software. While app developers and financial institutions routinely find and fix security flaws, consumers should stay informed on the latest scams.

Phishing is one of the most common mobile banking scams. In this scheme, criminals send official-looking emails to bank customers. When users open the enclosed files or links, they end up on a fake website where they are prompted to enter sensitive information.

More advanced scams may even display some of the user’s personal information gleaned from data breaches. Due to these types of scams, most financial institutions never ask for personal information through email.

Users can avoid phishing scams by double-checking the sender’s email address and ensuring it is legitimate. Additionally, users should bypass embedded links and instead type their bank´s website directly into the address bar.

2. Set up Multi-Factor Authentication

Most secure web pages and apps require a password. However, users can add another level of security by enabling multi-factor authentication. This process requires a user to confirm their identity on two different devices.

For example, a mobile banking app may send out a text message containing a PIN to the user’s registered telephone number. Since the account is inaccessible without the PIN, it reduces the ability for hackers to enter the user’s account.

Authentication apps can also boost mobile banking security. These apps generate a new six-digit code up to two times every 60 seconds. If the mobile bank account is linked to an authentication app, the user will have to input the code. This can also prevent unauthorized log-ins.

3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Some scammers intercept and steal personal data transmitted during an online transaction. Using public Wi-Fi exposes mobile bank users to this type of fraud because anyone can log into an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Sometimes, scammers create decoy Wi-Fi networks to entice users to log on.

Cyber security experts recommend avoiding mobile banking while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Mobile data is more secure and difficult to intercept. If there is no alternative to public Wi-Fi, users can mitigate their risk by deploying a VPN before accessing their accounts.

4. Change the Password Frequently

Millions of people use the same two dozen passwords. This, combined with the tendency to reuse the same password across multiple accounts, makes it very easy for hackers to guess and enter secured accounts.

Further, data breaches can expose users' personal information and passwords. Often, criminals compile and distribute these records on the dark web. Users can protect their mobile banking accounts by changing their passwords every 30 to 60 days.

The most effective passwords are more than 12 characters long and contain a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. However, names and meaningful numbers, such as addresses and birthdays, should not appear in the password.

5. Only Download Approved Apps

Mobile operating systems, like Apple and Android, have an app vetting process. While this protects users from most forms of malware, the system is not 100 percent foolproof. Users installing a mobile banking app should only download the official version.

If the app is valid, the financial institution will appear as the publisher. Also, official mobile apps usually have many more downloads than fake versions.

6. Sign Up for Notifications

One of the benefits of mobile banking is the ability to review transactions instantly. Many banks give users the option to enable notifications. This will send an email or text message if the bank suspects a transaction is fraudulent.

Notifications can help users catch fraud and act as quickly as possible. Users who have experienced fraudulent use of their mobile accounts should shut down any associated credit or debit cards and change all their passwords.

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