The safe way to enjoy mobile banking

Aussies are early adopters when it comes to technology, in fact it’s safe to say they have a love affair with their iPhone and have the second highest smartphone usage in the world. Inevitably this addiction to our smartphone is extending beyond playing Angry Birds on the train and into banking remotely. But the convenience of mobile banking does have its risks. Guest writer Nigel Bowen give’s some guidance on how we can manage finances remotely and securely.

Four in ten Australians have a smartphone, and we’re 65 per cent more likely than the British and 14 per cent more likely than the Americans to use it to do our banking.

The downside of the convenience offered by remote banking is that it offers opportunities for criminals to raid your accounts. With the amount of mobile banking payments already in excess of $100 billion, and expected to be over $600 billion by 2016, there are plenty of fraudsters looking to take advantage of any weak links in mobile banking security systems. Here are 10 steps you can take to protect yourself.

1. Avoid using public internet connections – they offer a number of avenues for criminals to harvest your sensitive information. If you must use them, try to do it somewhere safe – the business centre of a five-star hotel, for example, is less risky than a backpacker cafe in the middle of a red-light district.

2. Set your smartphone, tablet or laptop to automatically lock. That way, no one will be able to view your confidential financial information if you leave a device lying around.

3. Just as you would if you lost your credit card, contact your bank if you lose a device you’ve ever banked on. Ask them to be alert to any unusual transactions and make sure to change your passwords immediately.

4. Clear your mobile device of text messages or emails from your bank before you share, sell or discard it.

5. Use only official apps supplied by your financial institution and only download them from official app stores.

6. Never send your account numbers or passwords in a text message to anyone, especially not if they’re claiming to work for your bank.

7. Stay one step ahead of the thieves by installing anti-virus and firewall software from respected suppliers. Don’t forget to regularly update it – new viruses are constantly emerging and software suppliers are always having to create and distribute new barriers to counter fresh threats.

8. Be password smart. Don’t store passwords on the same device(s) you use to do your banking (in fact, don’t store them on any internet-connected device). Avoid using the same password for multiple purposes and sites. If your banking app allows login with a PIN make sure it’s not the same one you use to unlock your mobile. Never use a password, such as your birthday or the year you were born, which is easy for someone to discover or guess.

9. Safeguard your privacy – read the privacy policy of a website before providing it with personal information. In particular, check whether your personal data will be shared with any other party.

10. Be discreet online – don’t give out things such as your phone number, home address or birthday on social networking sites. It may seem harmless, but it can be used to guess your passwords and/or steal your identity.

When it comes to mobile banking fraud, criminals typically target a financial institution’s customers rather than the financial institution itself. But by always protecting your sensitive data and devices when banking remotely, you can ensure the fraudsters are left frustrated when they search for security weak points to exploit. Getting financially organised on your mobile is okay you just need to take a few precautions