Are Online & Mobile Banking Safe?

Read Time: 4 Min

If you’re new to mobile and online banking, you may have concerns about safety. Learn more about the benefits and different ways you can help keep your money protected.

When it comes to banking online or within mobile apps, security should always be a priority. It’s perfectly normal to be apprehensive about new, unfamiliar technology that involves intimate information about your identity and your finances. We’re here to help you discover the benefits of mobile and online banking, discuss common security concerns, and help you decide if online and mobile banking may be right for you.

What is Mobile Banking?

Do you access your banking information through a smartphone app on your mobile phone or device? If so, you’re participating in mobile banking. In many cases, by downloading your bank or credit union’s smartphone app, you can view your account balances, transfer funds, and deposit paper checks, all within seconds, from the palm of your hand.

Financial institutions launch smartphone apps to offer digital products and services to their customers in a more convenient way. Mobile banking can help save you time and money and replace a trip to the bank or ATM. You can manage your money from nearly anywhere with just a few taps on your phone or tablet.

What‘s the Difference Between Online Banking and Mobile Banking?

Online banking requires the use of an internet browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, to connect to your bank’s website for access to accounts and services. Your access is dependent on an internet connection and typically requires you to enter your username and password each time you log in on the website.

Mobile banking is the use of an app from your bank that you download onto your device for on-demand access to your account. You can access your account through the app with a wi-fi connection or with your smartphone’s cellular network. Unlike online banking, apps may use smartphone features like Face ID or thumbprint authentication to log in to your account instead of a username or password.

Benefits of Online & Mobile Banking

Online and mobile banking is a quick, modern way to bank. The convenience of being able to check your bank account, no matter your location, is a major benefit. It can eliminate another errand from your busy schedule and make it just as easy to manage your banking as it is to order a pizza or online shop on your smartphone.

Other benefits of online and mobile banking include:

  • Direct Deposit
  • Bill Payments
  • Easy Account Access
  • Transfer Money
  • Digital Budgeting and Savings Tools
  • Access to Electronic Statements
  • Customization and Personalization
  • Saves Time & Money (ex: no spending gas on a trip to the bank)

Online and mobile banking give you the freedom of managing your money without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.

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4 Security Tips for Online & Mobile Banking

While your bank account may be protected by insurance and other safeguards, managing your money in person, online, or on mobile can still pose security risks. Hackers may try to steal information and money from your online accounts. Meanwhile, carrying cash—especially large amounts—can also attract thieves and scammers.

To help protect your finances, we have four security tips for you to consider while managing your money.

1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

Scammers are always developing new schemes to try to steal your information, and public wi-fi networks are a common playground for data thieves. If you’re on a free public wi-fi connection, security tends to be less strict because anyone can join the network at any time. Typically, these networks are not password protected, or use a communal password that anyone can access.

This means that scammers can also easily connect to a public network and possibly steal your information without your notice. However, if you’re a frequent traveler or always on-the-go, you may have no choice but to use public wi-fi connections frequently. To increase security, try connecting with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN encrypts and hides your data from potential online threats to help keep your information protected while you’re using a public network. While the VPN masks your information, you can more securely access your mobile banking apps and other services while on a public wi-fi connection.

2. Use Password Best Practices

  • Create a strong password. Having a strong password with different characters, numbers, and capitalizations can help enhance the strength of your password and protect your accounts from security breaches. Remember, your password should be unique.
  • Change your passwords every 60 to 90 days. By updating your password regularly, this can help keep your accounts protected and prevent having your information compromised.
  • Avoid passwords that are easy to guess. Scammers will try variations of your or a family’s member birthday, phone number, lucky number, etc., which is why it’s important to avoid using numbers that may be publicly available online or used in other private information. Also, never share your passwords and do not write them down or store them on your smartphone, computer, or another easily accessible place.
  • Choose hard security questions. Try to avoid security questions that could be too easy for friends, acquaintances, or scammers to guess. If your account requires security questions, choose difficult questions with answers that only you know. You can even make up unique answers to security questions rather than true, easily verifiable answers. For example, answering a security question about your pet’s name when you have photos and details on social media about your pet—including their name—could make it easier for scammers to find the correct answer.

3. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a control that combines two different types of cybersecurity protection to help keep your information private. It combines something you know (an ID and Password), with something you have (a security code) to gain access to a system.

Once you opt-in or turn on two-factor authentication, you will typically be sent a security code by text or email to enter on a site or in an app after entering your password. This way, even if your password is stolen or compromised, hackers can’t get into your account without that code. Ask your bank if they offer two-factor authentication and how you can opt in as an added security measure.

4. Make Smart Security Decisions

While it may sound cliché, the best defense is a good offense. Making smart security decisions early can help protect your mobile banking and other online accounts from theft or fraud in the future.

Here’s a few other things to consider for mobile banking safety.

  • Choose mobile banking with institutions that are FDIC insured.
  • Use a passcode, Face ID, or thumbprint authentication to secure your devices.
  • Turn on fraud alerts to immediately catch unusual activity.
  • Check your bank statements monthly for discrepancies or unauthorized charges.
  • Sign up for annual credit reports to check for anything suspicious.
  • Follow smartphone safety tips to avoid compromising your devices.

While mobile banking may seem new and uncertain, there are plenty of security measures you can take that can help make mobile banking a more secure, valuable option for your finances.

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