Whenever there’s a reason for fear, or when there’s upheaval, there’s a good chance that someone out there will try to take advantage of the situation.
One example is the rise in cybersecurity threats against mobile banking apps. The FBI recently warned that the coronavirus pandemic is leading to more people using banking apps rather than going into branches and this could be fodder for scammers and hackers.
Here’s what you need to know about the possibility of your mobile app being hacked.
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How Hackers Access Your Bank App
There are two main possibilities when it comes to stealing your banking information via your bank app:
- Trojan: This is malicious code on your actual device that you might pick up when you download another app, such as a game or tool. When you open your banking app, the malicious code creates a fake login page for the bank app and steals your information. Now the fraudster has access to your bank account.
- Fake mobile banking app: Another concern is that some cybercriminals create fake apps. You download what you think is your bank’s app, but it’s fake and steals your information.
There’s another possibility where a hacker doesn’t try to fake a mobile banking app or put malicious code on your device its when you use public WiFi. When your device is connected to the internet, some apps might run in the background, sending data along with it. Even if you arent using your banking app, this could give hackers the ability to see frequently used usernames or other sensitive information. And, if you use a WiFi network that has been hacked, the fraudsters can send traffic to fake sites instead of real ones, leading you to the same problems listed above.
In all these cases, your sensitive information is taken and used against you. You could see your bank account attacked and end up with problems in the long run. Even if you eventually get your money back, the hassle involved and other associated problems are no small matter.
Related: Best Mobile Banking Apps
What to Do If Your Bank App is Hacked
If you realize that your bank app has been hacked, it’s important to take action immediately. Call your financial institution and let them know that fraudulent actions are being taken in your account. You have 60 days to notify your bank if you don’t want to be held liable for 100% of the fraudulent activity. This is why it makes sense to track your accounts and pay attention to what’s happening with them. You’ll catch problems quickly and be able to resolve them with minimum liability.
You might end up having to close your old account and open a new one. This can be inconvenient since you might need to change automatic transactions and bill pay. However, if your bank app is hacked and fraudsters have access to the old account information, you need to move forward.
Check your phone for malware. If your bank app is hacked, there’s a good chance your smartphone is infected. Remember, your phone is a computer. You might need to wipe everything and start all over again. Back up important items, like contacts and pictures, before you proceed.
Next, you need to beef up the security on your bank account. The most important thing to do is to change your password. Review your other passwords as well. Make sure you have different passwords for different accounts and make sure they aren’t connected to your life or publicly available information. When you clamp down, you’re less likely to be hacked a second time.
Related: Is Online Banking Safe?
How to Reduce the Chances of Having Your Bank App Hacked
There are some actions you can take to reduce the chances that your bank app will be hacked. Carefully consider how you use your phone and you’ll likely be safer in the long run.
Get a VPN
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Download Your Bank App from a Trusted Source
Before downloading a banking app, make sure you’re getting it from a trusted source. Most banks have their apps available in official stores. Get the app from the Google Play Store or from the Apple App Store.
Next, make sure that you’re getting the right app. Fraudsters can spoof an app for a short period of time before getting caught. You can open the browser on your phone and go to the official page for your bank. From there, most banks have a place where you can go directly to the download. This reduces the chances that you’ll download a fake app.
Financial apps like CIT and Chime make it a point to have links to their apps readily available on their websites so you can go straight to the right app and be confident that you’re getting the real thing.
Chime Disclosure - Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
1Chime cannot guarantee when files are sent by the IRS and funds can be made available.
^Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. We generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.
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Avoid Public WiFi when Using Your Banking App
It’s much harder for hackers to access your information when you’re using your cellular data or a private WiFi network. While public WiFi can be helpful when it comes to saving your phone’s data plan, it leaves you vulnerable to hackers.
Whenever you need to access something sensitive or need to enter sensitive information, don’t use a public WiFi network. Yes, hackers can get into anything given enough time and incentive but there’s no reason to make it easier for them. In many cases, they just hang out on public WiFi waiting to steal information.
Create Strong Passwords
Many people choose passwords that are easy to remember and connected to their real lives. This makes it easier for hackers to crack. Create strong passwords that are unrelated to your life. You can use tools like LastPass or 1Password to create and store strong passwords on your behalf.
While you’re at it, it’s important not to store passwords and PINs on your phone. It might be tempting to keep a list in your notes or some other place, but that can give hackers and fraudsters everything they need if they get into your phone. Create strong passwords and keep them away from an easily accessible place.
Protect Your Phone
Another way to reduce the chances that your bank app will be hacked is to protect your phone with a passcode. Additionally, you might be able to use Face ID or a fingerprint scan to access your phone and reduce the chances that others can get it. Some banking apps have their own measures. For example, you might also need your fingerprint or Face ID each time you access your banking app on top of needing to get into your phone in the first place. This added layer of protection can go a long way toward keeping your data safe and keeping you from getting hacked.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
In addition to using a strong password, two-factor authentication can be a big help when it comes to accessing your bank account. You might think that it’s a little cumbersome to use two-factor authentication, but it can be a big deterrent for hackers. That extra step to confirm your identity can go a long way toward protecting your account. And while this is a great step to take, remember it’s not foolproof either.
Update Your Phone
Outdated software is easier to hack than updated software. Plus, banking apps and other apps are always updating security fixes and making improvements. If you update your phone and apps regularly, you’re more likely to have the latest security patches and other benefits. Keep your phone updated to better protect yourself from hackers.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic may be providing increased opportunities for hackers as more people download banking apps, you don’t have to be a statistic. Be aware of the possibility that your banking app might be hacked and keep an eye on your account. Take steps to protect your account and your phone, and you’ll be less likely to be a victim of these types of scams.