10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Mobile Banking Scams

by Tania Dakka · 3 comments

Are your mobile banking apps putting your pocketbook in danger?

If you are like some Americans, you might be missing money and not even know it.

This last weekend, ABCnews.com reported foul-ups from mobile banking apps slapping iPad users with a duplicate charge when they paid their bills or transferred funds. The extra charges began when Citibank went live with their iPad app last July, yet no one discovered the issue until December.

A mobile app invisibly syphoning money in the background is a giant problem, an app doing it for months undiscovered is even bigger – exactly the sort of snafu that can erode trust between consumers and their mobile banking products.

This is just one recent example of mobile banking problems. There is actually another larger threat looming in the mobile banking world that consumers have been dodging for decades: theft. Even if banks take every measure to secure their data, they aren’t perfect. Recently, the FDIC acknowledged that banks in the US have had data stolen during mobile banking transactions.

Still, most experts agree that mobile banking isn’t just for the future, as it’s just as safe as any other type of banking currently being offered. As long as you take the proper precautions, you can capitalize on the convenience of mobile apps to get your banking done, wherever you are.

So what should you be doing to make sure your money stays safe when mobile banking?

1. Always know where your phone or tablet is. It’s too easy for someone to get their hands on your account if you’re careless about where you leave your devices. Install an app that helps you locate your device if it’s misplaced or stolen.

2. Never store your login information on your phone or tablet. When prompted to remember the login for next time, resist the urge to say yes for convenience. Keeping your information out of your phone will help keep it safe.

3. Always keep tabs on your bank account. Make sure you know where your money is going and when. By meticulously keeping track of your account and your daily spend, you’ll be able to spot mistakes as soon as they happen. Contact your bank immediately if you detect any errors. Early intervention helps get the problem corrected quickly, without hassle, and can get the funds replaced more easily.

4. Verify transactions. Double-check your transaction before hitting “OK.” Make sure you’re depositing or transferring the correct amount. Banks report that problems are often due to incorrect transactions by the user.

5. Beware of fraudulent apps. There are and always will be scammers trying to separate you and your precious dollar. Be sure the app you’re downloading is from your bank and not a third party developer.

6. Never use public WiFi when conducting transactions. Using public Wifi leaves your account information open to the public and vulnerable to would-be thieves. For further protection, always make sure your WiFi is off when it’s not in use.

7. Don’t follow email links if you don’t know the sender. If a “bank” sends you an email and asks you to follow the link, don’t (unless you know that it is personally sent to you from your institution). This is a good way to avoid being phished. Phishing is a way of obtaining access to your usernames, passwords, and miscellaneous account information by pretending to be a credible institution.

8. Download an anti-theft system that turns your phone into a “brick” if stolen. AndroidLost wipes your phone remotely so if it’s ever stolen or lost, you can locate it by GPS, wipe the phone and SD card, and even forward all your calls. With an app like this you can feel safe that your information is less likely to be exploited if your phone or tablet is stolen.

9. Encrypt your SD card so it can only be read from your phone. With encryption, your phone is useless if the card is lost or stolen.

10. Always shut Bluetooth off when not in use. Keeping Bluetooth enabled means the files on your phone are always accessible to thieves. Turn it on when you need to transfer files, then shut it off when you are finished.

Don’t be careless and end up as one of the thousands of users charged without their knowledge. Make sure your account information and money are safe at all times by using these 10 tips to help you take the proper precautions and safely bank by phone or tablet.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Carl Lassegue says:

    It is very worrying that these mobile apps are now vulnerable to scams like that. I always look through my bank statements every month and go through all my expenses. I have yet to find a discrepancy but I’m going to start following these instructions to keep my information safe. I’m always leaving my bluetooth on and I did not know it was such a hazard.

  • Jean says:

    Wow that is worrying to hear. Figured it was a matter of time before mobile banking would be caught in the net of scamming too. That said, the precautions are easy enough to follow and similar to what we’ve always maintained while netbanking on the PC. Not using public wifi while mobile banking is probably the most important of them.


  • Marbella says:

    The more you load apps and other technical things in your mobile and computer, the greater is the risk that you become a victim of a crime. Do not be a slave to have the latest, it will cost you just a lot of unnecessary money.

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