With cybercrime so rampant, you need to be proactive about protecting yourself.
This year marks a decade since the financial crisis. The biggest financial institutions still dominate the landscape, but banking has changed. Mobile banking now plays a significant role in how we manage our money. A 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve found that over half of smartphone users with bank accounts used their devices to access their money.
What hasn’t changed? Con artists.
In 2008, identity theft was the top complaint logged by the Federal Trade Commission. Today, the number of complaints is 20% higher. Many of today’s fraud and identity theft breaches involve mobile devices. It’s easier to keep up with your bank accounts, but it could also be easier to get scammed.
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How hackers work
Phishing. Hackers use websites, emails or other means to trick customers into submitting personal information.
“Ten years ago, phishing was rudimentary. Fake sites were not authentic looking. There were a lot of typos,” says Adam Levin, founder of Cyberscout, an Arizona-based cybersecurity company. “Criminals have gotten much more sophisticated, and the sites look real.”
The nonprofit Anti-Phishing Working Group says phishing attacks rose a whopping 5,700% over the 12 years ended in 2016.
Keylogger software. These programs may install on phones via unsecured apps, often ones that are not from your device’s approved app store. The software records keystrokes, such as a bank password, and sends what was typed to the hacker.
Cybersecurity experts say that fake URL’s are tricking more people than ever into giving up private information. Tony Spitz has the details.
How to protect your accounts
Make sure your bank provides:
- Two-factor authentication. When you log on to your bank’s webpage, it will contact you through another means — sending a text, for example — to confirm the login request.
- Transaction alerts. These are generally texts or emails your bank sends to your mobile device when large purchases are made on your account or your balance drops below a certain amount.
- Fraud monitoring. The bank sends a text asking you to confirm an odd purchase attempt, such as buying a pricey item from a vendor you’ve never used before.
Keep mobile software up to date. Your device provider’s periodic updates can help stop the latest hacker attempts.
Have a rock-solid sign-on. Levin recommends “long and strong passwords” to stymie a smartphone thief. Lock your device’s screen and use another password to unlock it.
Be careful with other contacts. Fraudsters may call and say an account has been compromised, then ask for a password or Social Security number to confirm your identity.
“Why would you need to authenticate yourself to someone who contacts you?” Levin says. Hang up and call the bank at a number you’re familiar with.
Today, bank customers can deposit checks, transfer money and pay bills from their smartphones. But with convenience comes risk. Take steps to protect your cash.
Kim Komando walks through several tell-tale signs that one of your devices or accounts may have been hacked.
Kim Komando, USA TODAY
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Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @margarette.
NerdWallet is a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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