Mobile banking – tips on how to bank safely

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Mobile banking is growing dramatically – industry estimates reckon that one billion of us globally will use our phones for mobile banking, compared to just over half that figure today. But it’s also an area that’s actively targeted by fraudsters. So how can you minimise the risks if you use mobile banking?

How risky is mobile banking?
Experts say that mobile banking isn’t necessarily riskier than desktop online banking, but the risk can be greater because of how we use our phones. Dr. Jessica Barker, a cyber security consultant, says that criminals are capitalising on this. “People are more likely to use insecure wifi, less likely to have passwords and mobiles are far more likely to be stolen than desktop computers.”

Here are eight tips to reduce the risks if you bank via your mobile:

1. Keep your passwords safe
This sounds obvious but don’t share your passwords or PIN codes and don’t choose obvious ones, if you can. Research carried out last year showed that 1234 was the most common PIN used.

SAVVY TIP: Set up a password or PIN to access your mobile phone or tablet and make sure it locks after a short time (preferably a couple of minutes).

2. Keep your handset secure
The payments organisation Payments UK recommends that you keep your mobile device’s operating system updated with the latest security patches and upgrades. If you rely on older software, it may be vulnerable to attack from viruses and Trojans.

SAVVY TIP: Consider using anti-virus software — especially if you use your mobile or tablet for banking or payments.

3. Be wary when downloading apps
When you’re downloading the mobile banking app, only use sites such as Apple iTunes, Android Marketplace and Blackberry App World. Be careful about the app you download and make sure it is the bank’s official app.

SAVVY TIP: Jessica Barker says there are two types of malicious app; a bogus banking app or another type of app that infects your phone with malware and takes your log-in details when you use legitimate banking apps. Beware!

4. Use secured wifi networks
Don’t use mobile banking or download apps if you’re using an insecure wireless network.

5. Take care when responding to texts or emails
Don’t open links unless you know who has sent the message and can trust the source.

SAVVY TIP: Be careful about the information you give away if you are called by your bank. They will never ask you to give out your passwords in full. They may ask for selected letters from passwords or account PINs, however, they will never ask for your debit or credit card PIN (in part or full).

6. Take care when logging in
You wouldn’t leave your tablet or mobile phone lying around when you’re logged into your bank account, so in the same way, you should make sure people can’t look over your shoulder or see you typing in account details and passwords, says the Payments Council.

7. Take care with repairs
Delete temporary files and the cache stored in the memory of your mobile — they could contain confidential information. It’s also a good idea to clear your browsing history regularly. It’s particularly important to do this if you send your phone off for repairs.

SAVVY TIP: You can do this on iPhones and iPads by going to ‘settings’, then clicking on ‘Safari’, then on ‘clear history’. For Android phones, you should tap on the menu key, then ‘more options’, click on settings and you can delete your browsing history from there.

8. If you lose your phone
Report the loss to your bank/building society and mobile phone provider immediately. Make a note of your phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number as it will make it easier for your phone company to disable a stolen phone.

SAVVY TIP: The IMEI number is included in the information you get when you buy your phone. If you’ve lost it, you can get it by dialling *#06#.

Related articles:

Five steps to take if you’re the victim of ID fraud

Bank fraud refunds; will your bank always refund your money?

Don’t pay by bank transfer if you don’t know the company

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