It's estimated that by 2021, 50% of adults globally will use digital banking, many on smartphones and other mobile platforms. But, identity thieves and others with ill intentions know this and work obsessively to get mobile access to other people's financial accounts.[cite::219::cite]

It’s vital you take steps to help protect yourself and your family against harm while conducting mobile banking transactions. Here's more information and some helpful tips for users of all experience levels.

Mobile Banking Defined  

When you do mobile banking, you’re conducting banking transactions on a handheld digital device like your smartphone, smartwatch, or tablet. In its purest form, it’s text messaging between you and bank on your phone, enabling you to transfer money, deposit checks, receive alerts to possible fraud, and more, all on-the-go.

Also, like PC (desktop) banking, you can bank remotely using the browser on your mobile device. But, for most mobile banking today, banking apps downloaded to smartphones serve as fast, easy virtual financial gateways.

Benefits of Mobile Banking

You can access mobile banking anywhere you have your phone, as long as you can connect to a cellular or Wi-Fi service. Many mobile banking services and apps add convenience to banking, saving time you can commit to other activities. However, your mobile banking features may vary from others.

Mobile banking is similar to PC or on-site banking. Depending on your bank, your mobile service allows you to deposit checks remotely, pay bills, send virtual cash to others, transfer funds between accounts, check balances, review transactions, and more.

So, do your research and ask questions to ensure you are using approved banking apps that you know are from your bank, downloaded from app stores.

Mobile Devices Can Be Vulnerable to Hacks

In some cases, thieves targeting your banking information only need your phone number to access your mobile apps. So, conducting mobile banking activities makes your transactions more vulnerable, since you can get hacked through other mobile apps.

Hackers use malware explicitly targeting mobile banking information, too. Once hackers gain access to your digital mobile equipment, they can take control and use your private information. They can also use your mobile electronics to get access to your other connected devices, like any Internet of Things (IoT) or desktop computer on the same WiFi network where you’ve connected your phone.

That’s true no matter which mobile brand you and your family use. In fact, the more popular your device is, the more likely it’s a hacker target. Also, many users don’t take proper security precautions, and hackers trick users to get information to access to their electronics.

Staying Safe with Mobile Banking

Hackers look for ways to attack the most devices with the least work, meaning you should take steps to make it harder for them to get into your handhelds. Implementing security tactics such as the following can be helpful:

  • Keep phone software up-to-date with the latest OS, security, and app versions
  • Create a secure passcode, or use biometrics like a fingerprint to access your devices
  • Only use devices that aren’t jailbroken for mobile banking
  • Do not use public WiFi to access mobile banking, and be sure yours hasn’t gotten compromised
  • Use two-factor authentication for mobile banking for extra security
  • Only use bank-authorized apps downloaded from secure app stores
  • Create a hard-to-guess password for mobile banking that you’ll use only for mobile banking
  • Be careful what you share on social media that hackers may try to use to commit identity theft against you
  • Avoid smishing. Don’t click links in strange text messages or in emails that could compromise your smartphone
  • Don’t use Bluetooth while you’re remote banking, and turn it off when it’s not in use to prevent hacker access

Also, know the early warning signs of identity theft, like fraud freezes on your credit or debit cards or purchases on them you didn’t make. Look for irregularities in brokerage accounts or accounts on your credit reports that aren’t yours. In addition, be wary of another hacking technique related to mobile devices—attempted cell phone porting (transferring your phone number to a thief’s device).

A little extra care and attention can make mobile banking a safe and convenient form of money management for you and your family. Just stay alert for signs of hacking and identity theft, and follow the guidance above to help protect yourself and your accounts.