What the Tech: Mobile banking apps

Local News

During the pandemic, millions of people who have primarily have stayed at home in isolation have been doing their banking using a mobile app for the first time. CNBC reported earlier this year that banks saw a 200% increase in new mobile banking registrations. In 2019 the FBI reports 75% of Americans had done some form of mobile banking. That number has surged during the pandemic a whopping 50%. Along with all those bank customers, the FBI says cyber-criminals are using banking apps more as well.

Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s online fraud wing said in a PSA that it expects those “cyber actors to attempt to exploit new mobile banking customers using a variety of techniques. You can read the FBI’s public service announcement here.

The Bureau advises the public to be cautious when downloading apps onto smartphones and tablets. Bogus apps are being developed by cyber-criminals to look almost identical to banks’ official apps. Victims then sign into their bank account and choose a username and password. If the app is bogus, the bad guys will have their bank account number, username and password.

It’s all they need to access the account.

The FBI says in 2018 it found over 65,000 fake apps that were detected on major app stores. While many were not for banks, another investigation found 6,000 bogus bank apps.

In its PSA, the FBI offers these tips to protect yourself:

  1. Obtain apps only from the app stores.
  2. Use two-factor authentication for all of your critical accounts such as banks, credit cards
    and even social media.
  3. Use strong passwords for those accounts that you do not use for anything else.
  4. Monitor your bank accounts for suspicious activity.
  5. Don’t click links in emails or text messages that even look like legitimate banks unless
    you’re certain it comes from a trusted source.
  6. If a banking appears suspicious, call the bank.

Another thing you might want to do is instead of downloading the app by searching the app stores, go to your bank’s website and look for the official link. Most banks will include links to their apps.

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