Can you trust mobile banking apps? How to stay as safe as possible when tapping your phone.
By Andrew Marder
Many people are suspicious of banking apps. Here are three things that will help.
This article is reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.
Americans embraced mobile banking as their main account access more than any other method from 2017 to 2021, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. its 2021 report on unbanked and underbanked households.
Still, a new NerdWallet survey found that many people are hesitant to use mobile banking because of security concerns. More than 2 in 5 (42%) bank customers who do not use mobile banking apps say they do not trust their security as a reason.
While these concerns are not unfounded, they don’t have to come between you and a successful mobile banking life. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you are as safe as possible when tapping your phone.
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Install only trusted apps
Most mobile users are on Android or iOS, both of which have app stores. For people with iPhones, there’s the Apple ( AAPL ) App Store, while Android users get the Google ( GOOGL ) Play Store. These app stores are the best places to find authentic, safe apps.
Apple’s vetting process for all apps in the store includes a series of security assessments. These cover aspects including standard concerns about privacy policies and ensuring that the apps do not mislead users.
Google offers apps certified by its Play Protect system. Play Protect scans apps added to your phone and can remove or disable apps that are potentially harmful. It can also warn you about apps that violate Google’s Unwanted Software Guidelines, which govern apps’ openness and usability.
If you are in doubt about which mobile banking app to install, you can go directly to the bank’s website on your phone. Most banks will provide a link to the official app in the app store of your choice. If your bank doesn’t, contact it 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 the NerdWallet survey. Of these, 63% say they are worried about their accounts being hacked.
One of the best ways to keep your bank accounts safe, no matter how you bank, is to have a strong, unique password — “ILoveCats!” does 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 the doorman in an apartment building. Just having the key won’t get you into the apartment because the person at the door won’t let in anyone they don’t know without references.
With 2FA, you will have an additional security step activated. Often this will mean getting a text message or email with a separate code when you log into your account. Requiring a text means that no one can log into your account without access to your phone as well.
According to the NerdWallet survey, 38% of mobile banking app users worry about someone accessing their bank account if their phone is lost or stolen.
Related: Take advantage of these handy features in your banking app
Manage access to your phone
To keep strangers out of your phone, make sure you have a strong lock screen pin, lock the screen when you’re done with 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 can also be your wallet, house key, identity card and transport card – accidents will happen. If your phone is lost or stolen, contact your bank. Just like with a lost credit card, notifying your bank early can help you avoid problems.
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Andrew Marder writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected].
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