Mobile banking was already going mainstream before COVID-19 landed in the United States. Now, with social distancing, quarantining and no-touch interactions necessary, banking transactions conducted through mobile devices are soaring.
As with any technology seeing a surge in adoption, the growth in mobile banking can also be enticing for fraudsters looking to exploit new users or find new security weak points. Here are five tips for banking securely during the pandemic and long after.
Download apps from trusted sources only
Sometimes the biggest security threats can hide in plain sight, by posing as legitimate websites. For this reason, it’s important to only download apps directly from your bank or official app stores. Users can also check that the reviews match the rating of the app and to look out for misspelled words and other red flags for potentially fraudulent apps.
Install updates as soon as possible
It may be an inconvenience, but it's important to update your device operating system and apps as soon as possible when an update is available. Many updates have behind-the-scenes security components that patch gaps in security or strengthen existing security features against malware and hackers. To make updates seamless for your lifestyle, set the process to begin when you’re sleeping, so you wake up to a safer digital dawn.
Be wary of free public wi-fi
Free public wi-fi networks have become common in coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and airports. While these networks are convenient, using them can be risky. First, anyone can set up a free public wi-fi network, regardless of their intentions. Public wi-fi can leave your device vulnerable and potentially lead to unauthorized access to your device.
To improve mobile banking security when you’re not on your home or office network, Use only trusted wi-fi networks that are password protected.
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is one of the most important steps to take to thwart fraud. Most mobile banking apps require a primary layer of security to sign in (e.g. username and password). The two-factor authentication model requires a second layer of authentication, such as a text message with an access code or a thumbprint or face scan for verification. By enabling the two-factor authentication, mobile bankers can significantly reduce their exposure to fraud — and feel more confident that their information is safe.
Set alerts to flag suspicious activity
Take control of your accounts by setting alerts for suspicious activity. For example, many mobile banking apps let users set text alerts for when a payment — typically based on a customized threshold — is charged to their account. Likewise, some mobile apps allow users to set up “unusual account activity,” which can help detect and flag unusual patterns in purchases and locations, and ask the account holder to verify the authenticity of the transaction.