Tips to Be a Safe Mobile User

Having an actual conversation is just one small part of today’s mobile experience. Now, more than ever, people are using their phones for banking, doing things like budgeting, paying bills, transferring funds and depositing checks.

In a recent survey conducted by the Federal Reserve, 52% of smartphone owners are mobile bankers. But for those who are resistant to the idea, one reason cited was their concern about security. According to Juan Lepe, Vice President of Information Technology Planning and Risk at SchoolsFirst FCU, secure mobile banking is really a partnership between financial institutions and consumers.

“At SchoolsFirst FCU, we take online security very seriously,” says Lepe. “For example, we employ multiple layers of security controls to ensure that our Members’ financial information is kept confidential.  That system is monitored internally as well as externally to make sure that proper protections are always in place.  But it is also vital that Members to do their part to keep their personal information and accounts secure.”

Unfortunately, many consumers aren’t as cautious as they should be when using their mobile devices. For example, a Consumer Reports survey revealed that 34% of users do absolutely nothing to safeguard their cell phones, making it easier for hackers to steal information. “That’s where the partnership comes in,” Lepe says. “Smartphones today have security features that can help cut down on fraud and theft.  But if you don’t use them, it’s like leaving your house unlocked and then wondering why you got robbed.”

First Things First: Security Matters

To make sure you are taking advantage of all your smartphone’s security features, review the Federal Communication Commission’s FCC Smartphone Security Checker. It provides checklists for Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Here are some simple smartphone security steps you can take now:

  • Keep your operating system and mobile apps up-to-date
  • Enable the passcode feature  to lock your mobile screen
  • Don’t change your device’s original security settings.  Jail-broken phones might seem like a good idea but they are a doorway for the bad guys to take over your device
  • Always use trusted resources to download new apps
  • Don’t store passwords or financial information in mobile apps that are not designed to be trusted password managers.
  • Use encrypted Wi-Fi networks if you are shopping or accessing financial information
  • Enable GPS tracking and data-wiping  features
  • Turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it

If your phone is stolen, notify your carrier immediately as well as your financial institution. And make sure you change all your online passwords and PINs

Guarding Against Scammers      

Email and text scams are on the rise, so use caution when reading email or texts, opening attachments or clicking on links. Never respond to texts or phone calls from unknown numbers. Not only can you leave yourself open to malware and viruses, but you can also incur unwanted fees. For instance, the FCC has warned consumers about the wireless “one ring” phone scam that calls a wireless number just once and then disconnects.  Unfortunately, if you call back, you could be connected to an international hotline that charges a fee for just connecting, as well as costly per-minute fees if the scammers can keep you on the phone.

Many scams are designed to target your financial information. “”Recently, we alerted our Members about a text message scheme designed to steal credit card information and PINs,” says Lepe. “We don’t ask for personal information via emails or texts, and never passwords or PINs.  Online passwords and PINs are known by Members only.” For more information about scams and identity theft, visit Consumer.FTC.Gov.

Banking Anytime, Anywhere

With the exception of getting cash, mobile banking gives consumers the freedom to do anything they might do at a local branch. “We are always looking for ways to improve the mobile banking experience,” says Lepe. “Strong security, robust capabilities and convenience remain our top concerns.  We want to make it easy, and it is.”

When used responsibly, your mobile device can be a great tool to help you regularly monitor your accounts by looking at your history on the go, signing up for alerts and even the ability to temporarily block a card.  This type of active monitoring is another great way for Members to be partners in protecting their information.

Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with SchoolsFirst FCU to make securities available to Members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No Financial Institution Guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s email to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies.

Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

If you post a comment, we will make every effort to respond or contact you directly. We reserve the right to delete comments that contain personal information, unauthorized content, or are generally inappropriate.