Gone are the days when you had to make a special trip to your local bank branch to make a deposit or transfer money from one account to the other. Today, with the proliferation of mobile apps, you can manage all your banking and investing needs from the comfort of your home, or from any Wi-Fi-enabled remote location. However, with these conveniences, come a host of digital security risks that can compromise your assets and your personal identity. Here are some tips to help ensure your safety while banking or investing from your mobile device.
Because bogus versions of your bank’s mobile apps may be found on third-party app stores, try to download the apps directly from your bank’s website. Alternatively, you can call your local banker or financial advisor to help you enroll in mobile services.
Banks control most of the security features on their mobile apps. However, it is up to you to ensure that the app does not automatically have permission to access all your personal data stored on the phone, including your location, activity and account information. After downloading any app, check the privacy settings on your device and turn off tracking services, especially for the times when you are not using a particular app.
Cybersecurity experts recommend you use passwords with a minimum of eight characters that contain a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for each app you use to ensure that if one password is compromised, criminals will not be able to use it to access your other accounts. To help you keep track of all your passwords, use a password manager that can also generate unique passwords and provide you with instant access to your accounts with a simple fingerprint.
Your password alone may not be enough to stop criminals from hacking into your phone or your banking accounts. Instead, when it is available to you, choose two-factor authentication to add a second layer of security to your password-protected accounts. After entering your log-in credentials, a unique code will be sent to your mobile device to confirm your identity before allowing you access to your account. This form of identity authentication is based on the premise that while thieves may be able to steal your username and password, it is highly unlikely they also would have access to your mobile phone to receive a security code or other confirmation to complete the log-in process.
Despite the convenience of logging into to your bank or investment accounts from any remote location at any time of the day, the reality is you should only do so when you are connected to a private and password-secured wireless network. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are not secure; criminals can snoop on your activity and gain access to passwords, home addresses and account information. Alternatively, you can log in to your accounts by using your device’s cellular data or mobile hotspot with the additional security of a virtual private network (VPN).
Software updates are critical to the performance and security of your mobile devices. Each update addresses known security vulnerabilities and bugs that can expose you to a borad range of risks, including malware that can steal your personal information.
Even if you do manage all your banking and investing needs via a mobile app, it is critical that you make the time to review your accounts on the web, checking your monthly statements and keeping a watchful eye for any suspicious activity.
About the Author: Brendan T. Hayes is a financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors, an Independent Registered Investment advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services. He can be reached in the firm’s Boca Raton, Fla., office at (561) 361-2001 or via email at
Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.
Brendan T. Hayes is a registered representative of and offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs. PWA is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment Advisory Services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc., and Provenance Wealth Advisors.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of Raymond James. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
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Updated October 27, 2022