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13 tips for safer mobile banking

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Mobile banking appears to be gaining favor with consumers, yet this technology isn't free from legitimate concerns about viruses, scams, identity theft and privacy.

To help people use this technology safely, the Independent Community Bankers of America, a banking industry group in Washington, D.C., has recommended the following tips:

  • Purchase an antivirus app to help protect you when you download applications or mobile content.
  • Never use your mobile device to transmit personal identification or banking information unless you initiate the contact and know you're dealing directly with your bank.
  • Never share your password, account number, PIN or answers to secret questions. Don't store this information on your phone.
  • Never set an app, Web or client-text service to automatically log in to your bank account.
  • Assume any unsolicited text request is fraudulent.
  • If you lose your phone, notify your mobile carrier and bank immediately.
  • Set your phone to require a password to power on or awaken from sleep mode.

Strong passwords are your first defense against identity thieves and other fraudsters, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center, a victim advocacy organization, and BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents large financial services companies.

The two organizations have teamed up to offer the following password tips.

  • Use combinations of lower- and upper-case characters, numbers and symbols to make up phrases you can easily remember. For example, combine the first two letters of your car's make, the first two letters of your first school and the first few digits of a number you know well to make up a password.
  • Use the maximum number of allowable characters.
  • Use passwords that remind you of an event instead of name or date.
  • Don't use the same password for all your online sites.
  • Use a capital letter in the middle of the password or substitute a number for a letter.
  • Avoid easily guessed passwords, such as names of family members or pet names, public information such as your birthday or address, and sequential passwords such as "abcdefghi" or "1234abcd."

Do you have a strong password that follows these guidelines? Share your password tips.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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