Safe Mobile Banking

Using a smartphone, tablet, computer or other mobile device to manage your finances can be convenient and help you monitor your money from practically anywhere. At the same time, it’s important to take steps to protect your account information.

  1. Be proactive in securing the mobile device itself.

    Depending on what security options are available on your device, create a strong password or PIN (with random numbers, instead of 1234, or the last four digits of your Social Security number) and periodically change it.

  2. Never leave your mobile device unattended.

    And make sure you enable the timeout or auto-lock feature that secures your mobile device when it is left unused.

  3. Be careful about where and how you conduct transactions. 

    Don’t use an unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as those found at coffee shops, because fraud artists might be able to access the information you are transmitting or viewing. Also, don’t send account numbers or other sensitive information through regular emails or text messages because those are not necessarily secure.

  4. Take additional precautions in case your device is lost or stolen.

    Check with your wireless provider in advance to learn about features that enable you to remotely erase content or turn off access to your device or account if you lose your phone. Quickly contact your financial services providers to let them know about the loss or theft of your device. Notifying your bank quickly will help prevent or resolve problems with unauthorized transactions.

  5. Research any application (app) before downloading it. 

    Just because the name of an app resembles the name of your bank — or another company you’re familiar with — don’t assume that it is the official app of that bank or company. It could be a fraudulent app designed to trick users into believing that the service is legitimate.

    “The best place to download an app is from the official website of the bank or company that you are doing business with or from a legitimate app store. Note that the business will often direct you to an app store,” said Jeffrey Kopchik, a senior policy analyst in the FDIC’s Division of Risk Management Supervision. “Also, if possible, be sure to protect your financial apps, ideally with a password that is different from the password for your device.”

  6. Be on guard against unsolicited e-mails or text messages appearing to link to a financial institution’s website.

    Those could be phishing messages containing some sort of urgent request (such as a warning that you need to verify bank account or other personal information) or an amazing offer (one that is “too good to be true”) designed to lead you to a fake website controlled by thieves.

Tips for Safely —

Using Mobile Payment Systems

The popularity of mobile peer‐to‐peer (P2P) payment systems such as Venmo, Paypal, and Google Wallet is rising. Such systems provide convenient ways to transfer money by giving consumers access to their accounts through mobile devices. With all online financial services, it is important to take security precautions when using these systems. 

Using P2P Payment Systems

P2P payment systems enable users to essentially wire money to other consumers and participating businesses directly from their accounts without sharing bank account information. Because P2P systems provide access to financial accounts, they are a prime target for cybercriminals. To use these types of systems safely, we suggest the following: 

  • Use strong passwords. As with all financial accounts, it is important to employ strong passwords that cannot be easily deciphered by cybercriminals.
  • Use a personal identification number (PIN). Many P2P payment systems offer the use of a PIN as a second form of authorization before a payment is made. This provides additional security if your account is compromised.
  • Beware of phishing scams. Beware of emails that appear to be coming from a P2P payment system, and never share account information through email. Contact the company directly if you think there is an issue with your account.
  • Only make P2P payments with trusted sources. It is not wise to pay or accept money from someone you don’t know or trust. Doing so could compromise your account if that person turns out to be a cybercriminal.
  • Be cautious when linking P2P payment system accounts to bank accounts. Consumers can choose to store money within a P2P payment system or link their bank accounts. Because most mobile and online payment systems are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), consumers could lose any money stored in such a system if the company failed. With a bank, deposits are FDIC‐insured up to $250,000 per account category per bank, meaning that if the bank ever failed, the bank’s customers would receive payment from the FDIC for their insured balances. Linking accounts, however, can expose you to security threats as a fraudster would be able to access your full account rather than the amount stored in the P2P payment system.
  • Monitor your accounts. Watch for suspicious activity on all of your financial accounts to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions. If you notice anything suspicious, contact your bank or the mobile payment system company directly to address the issue.