The 5 Most Dangerous Mobile Banking Habits
by Alex Matjanec , September 14, 2015
Mobile banking grows more ubiquitous every year. 52 percent of smartphone owners with a bank account use mobile banking, according to the Federal Reserve, and more than half of users log in at least 2 to 3 times a week. There is good reason for this momentum. Mobile banking is convenient and makes it easy for people to stay on top of their finances. However, that convenience can come at a price. By transferring money, checking your balances, or scheduling bill payments from your phone, you could unwittingly put your banking information at risk.
Here are the five most dangerous mobile banking habits that users should avoid.
• Using public WiFi
Banking when you are out and about can be tempting, but using public WiFi to log in to your bank’s mobile app, or any other financial services app, is not smart. For the most part, information sent through a public hotspot is not encrypted. This makes it vulnerable because other people on the network could access your activity. And if you are using an unsecured Wi-Fi network, this opens your highly sensitive financial data up to hackers.
The smartest approach is to avoid using public Wi-Fi altogether. If you must, there are still a couple of steps you can take your protect your information. First, access your bank’s app over the Internet instead of using your bank’s app, as long as it is encrypted. The “https” at the beginning of the web address will let you know whether it is encrypted or not. Alternatively, you can purchase Virtual Private Network access, which automatically encrypts your information even when you’re using an unsecured network.
• Leaving your phone unlocked
Just 36 percent of smartphone users say they use a lock code or PIN to protect their device. And in 2013, there were 3.1 million reports of smartphone theft in the U.S. and another 1.4 million were reported as lost and never recovered. Smartphone theft is rampant, and leaving your phone unlocked makes it far too easy for thieves to gain access to your sensitive information. Losing your phone is bad enough without identity fraud on top of it.
Locking your phone is the first line of defense for keeping hackers out of your sensitive financial information and preventing them from wreaking havoc on your life. The latest phone models scan your fingerprint for entry, so you don’t have to “deal with” entering the 4-digit code.
• Storing sensitive information
Just as many people don’t lock their phones for convenience’s sake, too many people use auto logins for their mobile banking apps. Yes, entering your username and password every time you log in to a mobile banking app (or any app that involves payments) can be a hassle; however, if anyone gets their hands on your phone, they have total access.
The smarter option for managing multiple cards and logins is to use a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Android Pay. You connect your debit/credit cards to these apps and they encrypt your information. Then when you pay online or in-person, you don’t have to enter your card number, and since your information is encrypted, it is also safe.
If you do not want to use one of these apps or do not have a compatible device, then make sure to log in manually every time and log out when you are done. Even if your mobile banking app automatically logs you out after a certain period of time, there is still a window of vulnerability.
• Opting out of alerts
Most mobile banking apps today give you the option to receive security alerts on your phone when critical changes are made to your bank account. These can include changes to your username or password, unusual log in activity, large transactions, and changes to your email address and phone number. Opting out of these alerts is a big mistake because you may not even realize if your accounts have been hacked until it’s too late. Signing up for alerts only takes a minute. You can also enable alerts for other financial services apps, like Mint, that monitor multiple bank or credit card accounts at a time.
• Password laziness
Around 14 percent of banking customers say they never change their passwords. This is a huge mistake. A strong password is not only a good defense against hackers, it is a necessary one. A strong password is one that a hacker could never be able to guess. You want to avoid using identifiable information like an email address, physical address, kids’ names, pets’ names, or birth dates. In addition, a strong password involves a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Third, a strong password requires regular updating.
Finally, you do not want to use the same password for all your banking or financial apps. A study from CSID found that 61 percent of Americans use the same password on multiple sites. Using the same information to log in to multiple accounts, multiple times a day makes it easier for a thief to gain access. Once they do, they have access to your entire financial world.
These simple steps will have a dramatic impact on the safety of your sensitive financial information, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Alex Matjanec | Co-Founder, MyBankTracker.com
On October 8th, 2013 The Federal Reserve released a redesigned $100 bill that incorporates a number of new security features designed to discourage counterfeiting and to help consumers and businesses determine whether a bill is genuine. The last redesign of the $100 note was in 1996.
The New $100 bill has Many Security Features: Look for a blue ribbon on the front of the note. Tilt the note back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon. You will see the bells change to 100s as they move. When you tilt the note back and forth, the bells and 100s move side to side. If you tilt it side to side, they move up and down. The ribbon is woven into the paper, not printed on it.Look for an image of a color-shifting bell, inside a copper-colored inkwell, on the front of the new $100 note. Tilt it to see the bell change from copper to green, an effect which makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the inkwell.Hold the note to light and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin in the blank space to the right of the portrait. The image is visible from either side of the note.Hold the note to light to see an embedded thread that runs vertically to the left of the portrait. The thread is imprinted with the letters USA and the numeral 100 in an alternating pattern and is visible along the thread from both sides of the note. The thread glows pink when illuminated by ultraviolet light.Tilt the note to see the numeral 100 in the lower right corner of the note shift from copper to green.Move your finger up and down Benjamin Franklin’s shoulder on the left side of the note. It should feel rough to the touch, a result of the enhanced printing process used to create the image. Traditional raised printing can be felt throughout the $100 note, and gives genuine U.S. currency its distinctive texture.Look for a large gold numeral 100 on the back of the note. It helps those with visual impairments distinguish the denomination.Look carefully for small printed words which appear on Benjamin Franklin’s jacket collar, around the blank space where the portrait watermark appears, along the golden quill, and in the note borders.A portrait of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, remains on the front of the new $100 note. On the back, there is a new picture of Independence Hall featuring the back, rather than the front, of the building. The ovals around the portrait and the picture have been removed and the images have been enlarged.The new $100 note’s American symbols of freedom—phrases from the Declaration of Independence and the quill the Founding Fathers used to sign the historic document—are found to the right of the portrait.The background color of the new $100 note is pale blue. Color adds a layer of complexity to the design of the $100 note and differs with each denomination to help distinguish them. Because color can be duplicated by potential counterfeiters, it should not be used to verify the authenticity of the note.The redesigned $100 notes are printed in two locations: Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. New $100 notes printed in Fort Worth will have a small F.W. in the top left corner on the front of the note to the right of the numeral 100. If the note does not have an F.W. indicator, it was printed in Washington, D.C.A universal seal to the left of the portrait represents the entire Federal Reserve System. A letter and number beneath the left serial number identifies the issuing Federal Reserve Bank. There are 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks and 24 branches located in major cities throughout the United States.The unique combination of eleven numbers and letters appears twice on the front of the bill. Because they are unique identifiers, serial numbers help law enforcement identify counterfeit notes, and they also help the Bureau of Engraving and Printing track quality standards for the notes they produce.
You can still use your old $100 bills, as the government will not immediately remove the old $100 bills from circulation, and instead will slowly phase them out as they get worn out.
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