Biz Bulletin: Smartphone banking can be safe and easy

Biz Bulletin: Smartphone banking can be safe and easy

April 26th, 2013 By Jim Winsett in Business Diary

BBB Chief Exective Jim Winsett

Photo by Leigh Shelle Hunt

Q: I just got a smartphone, and I am still trying to figure out all the features. I would like to do banking on my phone, but I am aware that there are some risks in doing so. What should I keep in mind when banking on my smartphone?

A: In our tech-savvy world, everything is readily accessible and convenient, even banking. Gone are the days of waiting in line at the bank or even waiting for your computer to boot up. Now you can access your bank account from anywhere in the world via your smart phone or tablet.

Importantly beware, consumers need to be more cautious than ever when banking through any device, as hackers can prey on the unsuspecting. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation, part of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, offers these five tips on how to keep your identity safe and your money in the bank:

1) Password-protect your phone or tablet so that only you can access the information on your device. This will help protect you if your phone or tablet is ever lost or stolen.

2) Never provide personal information unless you initiate contact with your bank or other financial institution. Financial institutions should not request account numbers, Social Security numbers or other sensitive information through the phone, email, or text messages. Your bank should already have this information when you first opened an account; there should be no reason for them to ask you for this information again. If you are not sure about a request, contact your bank by calling the number on the back of your debit or credit card.

3) Do not stay auto-logged in to your accounts. Even though it is convenient, it increases the risk that an unauthorized user will access your accounts.

4) Delete old texts from your bank to reduce your exposure to fraud.

5) Report lost or stolen devices immediately to your wireless provider and financial institutions.

It is also recommended to have current and reputable anti-virus software installed in your phone or tablet, and look to make sure your bank's link is a secure site (should have an "s", https://, instead of just http://). Having a secured site means your bank has placed extra precautions and encrypts your data to make it more difficult for hackers to access the information.

Read more from FINRA about how to protect your money: http://www.saveandinvest.org/ProtectYourMoney/. For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org and for the latest, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BBBTNGA.

Get answers to your questions each Friday from Jim Winsett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Inc., which serves Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. Submit questions to his attention by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN, 37401-1447, or by e-mailing him at dflessner@ timesfree press.com.