Reloading my prepaid phone has always been a hassle. If I use the call card, I often have to enter the numbers two or three times because the prints are so small and, after scratching the silver cover, I find that some digits are hard to read.
Buying tingi from the neighborhood sari-sari store has its own problems. I don’t know what the system is, but I often get all-call loads, much of which go unused.
So when I saw flyers in my bank about reloading from my account using my own mobile phone, I decided it was what I needed. I can get loads anytime, anywhere. There was even a bonus. Any P200 reload until October gives me a chance to win an iPad.
But the decision was not made without some concern. Is it safe? Am I putting the security of my account at risk by accessing it on my mobile phone?
A story on MSN Money shows that my concern is shared by other people. Beth Orenstein reports for MoneyRates.com that a survey suggests many people “are nervous about using smartphones for banking.” Consumers fear that sharing personal financial information on their phones will open them up to hacking and fraudulent activity.
But Phil Blank, managing director of security, risk and fraud at Javelin Strategy and Research, says, “All you need to do is use a little common sense.” The story quotes him as saying you just have to exercise some basic online street smarts.
Blank and Marc Warshawsky, senior vice president of mobile channel planning and design at Bank of America, offer some tips to ensure smartphone transactions are safe:
Stick to your bank’s apps for mobile banking or to trusted, well-reviewed third-party personal finance apps. Download them directly from the app store for your phone’s type—iPhone, Android, etc.
Treat your smartphone as if it were a personal computer. Blank says the smartphone is really a PC that happens to make phone calls. “If you look at your phone that way, you’re minimizing your risks.” For instance, install antivirus software on your phone as you would on your PC.
Monitor the whereabouts of your phone. One big difference between your smartphone and your desktop computer is that the latter is much less likely to fall out of your pocket or purse. Check every so often to make sure your smartphone is on you when you’re out and about.
Use public Wi-Fi access to conduct your banking business. You cannot be sure it’s secure, Blank says. Opt for wireless networks that require a network security key or have some other form of security.
Be the first in line to use your bank’s new app. “Wait until it’s been about 30-40 days and then go and download it,” Blank advises. Sometimes early versions contain malware or are not safe.
Leave the keys in plain sight. Never send a text message on your phone containing sensitive information checking or savings account number, or your account passwords.
Be fooled by e-mail or text messages asking for personal information. Often, these “phishing” messages claim to be from your bank and ask for personal information or ask you to click on provided links to update account information. “We would never ask you to provide your ID or password over digital communications,” Warshawsky says. You should also avoid visiting any websites that you don’t know anything about.
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