Published on: 27 Mar 2017
A number of new online ‘challenger’ banks have sprung up vying for your money. Some of them offer quite good interest rates compared with your normal High Street bank, and many of them aim to appeal to modern customers with ‘mobile only’ offerings. But how safe are banking apps and these less well-known challenger banks?
Are banking apps safe?
Most mobile banking apps do not store your bank details directly on your phone, but instead access it from a secure data centre. This means your mobile itself will never hold your personal bank information.
Some banks now offer specific software to tackle the threat of mobile fraud, so check with your bank.
Stay safe when banking on your phone
- Check the publisher of the app to ensure it's not a scam/phishing site. Some apps are available from the bank directly and others via an app store. Take care when downloading - if you see two or more similar-looking apps (same icon etc) only one is likely to be genuine.
- Download any free security software provided by the bank.
- Install quality security software. Often if you have it installed there is a remote deletion option that means you can delete any data stored on the phone if you discover it is lost or stolen.
- Use a PIN or password to lock your phone when you are not using it.
- Change your password regularly and make sure it’s difficult to guess, ie a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols.
- Make sure your phone's browser does not automatically input your passwords or usernames for you.
- Switch off the Bluetooth function on your mobile when it is not in use. This will stop any unmonitored wireless activity on your phone. You can take this further and avoid accessing your bank accounts from public networks, if you are happy to restrict where you log on.
- Delete any text messages from your bank when no longer needed, so that any information they have sent to you is not sat in your inbox.
Look our for scammers
Remember, banks will never ask you for your password or log in details by email – see Take 5 Don’t be a victim of digital fraud?
How safe is your money?
Any bank, building society or credit union needs to be authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If it is, then your money is protected with the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000 if your provider goes bust.
There is an equivalent European compensation scheme which covers foreign-domiciled banks.
Always check how your chosen provider is regulated on the Financial Services Register.
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