3 things to know about using mobile banking apps safely

Last updated: January 1

Many banks offer mobile banking apps, giving you more options for managing your 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 tools make users vulnerable to fraud and personal information theft. Here are some tips that can help protect you while using this convenient way of managing your money.

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1. Research apps

Do your research. Make sure any apps you're downloading are legitimate and aren't just using a name or logo similar to reputable banks or companies, says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Remember, you should only download apps from a large well-known app marketplace like Google Play Store or Apple's App Store.

2. Keep your device's software 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 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that people who use mobile banking apps download a reputable antivirus program that is designed to run on your phone or tablet's operating system.

3. Remove personal data from your devices

The Better Business Bureau 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 steal or find it. It's also a good idea to avoid using your mobile banking app on a public Wi-Fi network, because thieves connected to the same network could find a way to attack your device remotely.

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 FTC.