Mobile and online banking are incredibly convenient. With busy schedules and less time to actually go to your local bank or credit union to deposit checks, get cash, or adjust investments, mobile and online banking can be major time savers. However, just as with the advent of e-commerce, banking via wifi or cell signals from your phone or laptop has opened up new avenues of exposure for your financial and personal information.
Don’t Stray From Home
If you’re a regular user of online banking to manage your credit cards and bank accounts, be wary of using computers you don’t normally use. While you may have an incredibly secure network of your own, the same can’t always be said about your friend’s desktop or laptop. All it takes is one quick balance check on an unfamiliar computer to unintentionally exposure your login and password to malicious spyware. Unless you’re sure about the security of another network, you’re better off waiting until you can login from home.
Pick Complex Passwords
We’ve mentioned this security check before, but it’s imperative that you choose a password that is more complex than ‘12345.’ The best passwords contain a mix of upper and lower-case letters, at least two numbers and a unique character like an & or %. It’s also important to separate your passwords out by platform, i.e. a different root word for your Facebook login as compared to your online banking login. If one of your accounts happens to be compromised, this helps ensure that hackers aren’t able to easily access ALL of your personal and financial info from a single password. If you’re really stumped on creating tough passwords, check out this helpful post on with 8 ways to create stronger passwords.
Use Secure, Updated Browsers
Not all web browsers are created equal. Be sure that you’re using a browser that is up-to-date as this ensures that any known security loopholes are closed. You should also use a browser that forces https connections whenever possible. Https connections verify that there is a more secure connection being made between your computer or mobile phone and the banking system on the other end. While this doesn’t guarantee 100% safety it’s a great place to start when determining whether or not the network is potentially compromised.
Double Down on Password Protection
We’ve already mentioned how important passwords are when logging in to your mobile or online banking site itself, but what about your laptop or phone? Do you have a lock screen that kicks in when you haven’t used the device for specified amount of time? This is one of the simplest forms of protection as it makes it difficult for thieves to even access your device, let alone your banking website.
Sadly, no matter how thorough you might be when it comes to password complexity or security of your home wifi network, nobody is completely immune from the possibility of financial information theft. If you believe that you have been a victim of financial or personal information theft, be sure to contact The Internet Crime Complaint Center in addition to your credit card and financial institutions.