Mobile and online banking have become integral to our daily lives — the ability to check your bank statements or transfer funds from a computer or mobile device has all but replaced making a trip to the bank in person. But as technology becomes more advanced, so do the tricks used by hackers.
Here are some easy security tips you can follow to make it much harder for hackers to gain access to your banking and other personal information.
Beware of Phishing
Phishing, which is when hackers impersonate a business, has been around for almost as long as the internet itself. Phishing scams usually take the form of an email or text message telling you your account has been compromised and asking for personal information.
NEVER give out any personal or financial information — such as your PIN, any part of your social security number, or your bank account number — over email or text message. To be extra safe, never click on links in an email or text message unless you are 100% confident they are from a person or business you trust. If you don’t recognize the email address or phone number, delete the message.
Use Your Bank’s Official Website and App
Instead of clicking on links through an email or text message, always go directly to your bank’s website. The website will start with https:// instead of http://, which lets you know that it’s secure.
If you’re on a mobile device, use your bank’s official banking app. You should be able to download the app directly from the bank’s website. If you download it from your phone’s app store, look for an indication (an icon or a seal) that it is legitimate.
Don’t Use Public Networks
You can use the local coffee shop’s WiFi for general internet browsing, but when it comes to any site that includes your personal information, you should be much more cautious. Public networks are simply not secure enough. This can be easy to forget if you’re using mobile banking. Just be sure that when you’re checking your balance or doing any other banking activities, you turn the WiFi off on your phone.
Use a Strong Password and Change It Often
If your password is “qwerty,” “111111,” “123456,” your birthday, your anniversary, your child’s name, or anything similar, change it. (Here are some more examples of terrible passwords to avoid.)
Follow these guidelines to create a strong password:
- Mix up letters, numbers, and special characters
- Make your password at least 8 characters
- Make your password something that’s not self-identifiable (no names, dates, or favorite things of yours)
- Choose a non-word (something not found in the dictionary)
Password management apps like LastPass can help you generate strong, secure passwords.
Even if you have an excellent password, you should change it often. There’s no set rule for exactly how often you should change your password, but aim for at least twice a year. And definitely change it if you feel like your information is at risk.
These are just a handful of ways to increase security for mobile and online banking. You should, of course, monitor your bank statements and information regularly to catch any irregularities early. If something looks suspicious, contact your bank right away.
Although technology makes life a little easier, it comes with its own set of risks. But as long as you know about the risks and are proactive in countering them, you should feel safe in your online and mobile banking activities.