SunTrust and many other large banks in Georgia now offer mobile banking apps, giving Atlantans more options for managing their money. These apps typically enable you to check your account balance, set alerts for balance changes and make payments. They can also be a good tool for tracking expenses, staying on budget and even depositing checks.
But, like anything involving the Internet, there are questions about whether these new tools make users vulnerable to fraud and personal information theft. Here are some tips that can help protect you while using this new, convenient way of managing your money.
Only download the official app from a major reputable site. Safer apps come from official sources, says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Make sure only to download your bank’s official app and only download it from a large well-known app marketplace like Google Play Store, Apple iTunes or the BlackBerry App World.
Keep the device’s software—including its anti-virus application—updated. The National Cyber Security Alliance says that you can help reduce the ways that a malicious person could remotely steal information from your phone by making sure that you keep your operating system updated with the latest security patches. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that people who use mobile banking apps download a reputable anti-virus program that is designed to run on your phone or tablet’s operating system.
Avoid “phishing” attacks by avoiding strange links. Never follow links on unsolicited emails, SMS messages or unfamiliar websites. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that these are all ways scammers can use to trick you into going to a fake website whose purpose is to steal your personal information.
Avoid theft by keeping your device clean of personal data. The BBB also says that you should never save any of your account information, answers to any secret questions or your PIN anywhere on your mobile device where a virus or a thief could grab it. It’s also a good idea to avoid using your mobile banking app on a public wireless network, reports the FTC, because thieves could be connected to the same network and find a way to attack your device remotely.
The last word on protection. Finally, even if someone compromises your app or device and steals money from your account, you’re not entirely out of luck. Federal laws limit your loss to $50 if you report the loss within two days of its discovery, reports the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which adds that the American Banking Association has said that most banks have already adopted policies to waive that liability entirely.