Financial Tip of the Week from the Iowa Bankers Association:
Nine out of 10 Americans have a cell phone and, according to research by The Nielsen Company, more than half of them will be using a smart phone by the end of 2011. A smart phone is a hand-held computer that enables users to access the Internet, run applications and make phone calls. And, for a steadily increasing number of consumers, smart phones and other mobile devices can be used for banking.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reports that most common way customers make use of mobile banking is by accessing their bank's website using the browser on their smart phone or mobile device. This is very similar to what you would do on your home or office computer. Some banks have even developed special web pages formatted for mobile screens.
If you're also checking e-mails on your phone, keep in mind that some criminals may send e-mails with links that look like they come from your bank or a reputable company. It's always a good idea to use your browser bar to enter your bank's website address rather than following a link from an e-mail.
Some banks may offer an application program that can be downloaded and installed on smart phones. These applications may allow you to access your account information faster. To protect your phone from unauthorized applications, it is best to only download applications directly from the bank or a reliable vendor.
Even if you don't have a smart phone, some banks offer text message alerts that can be sent directly to your phone if your account balance drops to a specific level. Some banks may allow you to request your current balance by sending a text message and getting a quick response. The FDIC reports that using text messaging services for your banking transactions is less secure than using web- and application-based mobile banking systems. Keep in mind that scammers may send text messages posing as your bank to try to request your personal identification number, account number or other information. To make it easier to determine that text messages from your bank are authentic, add the bank's mobile number to your contact list under the bank's name.
To reduce fraud and protect your money, the FDIC recommends making sure that your phone or the mobile-banking application you're using is password protected. In addition, make sure your phone isn't storing your passwords to automatically log you into your bank account. That way, if you lose your phone, someone else can't access your bank account without having your password. If your phone is lost or stolen, immediately notify your bank and/or mobile phone provider.
As with all products and services, make sure you understand how it works so you can make an informed decision about whether mobile banking may be right for you.
These tips are provided by the Iowa Bankers Association (IBA), representing banks and thrifts in the state. The IBA serves it members by providing legislative advocacy, training, regulatory compliance and other services designed to enhance the ability of banks to serve their communities. Learn more at www.iowabankers.com.