3 Things to Do Before You Start Banking From a Smartphone

Mobile banking offers convenience and flexibility. But here's what you need to know before you tap in to this resource

[caption id="attachment_146970" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Chevy's new beach comber (Image: GM)"]2011 Chevy Camaro [/caption] 2011 CHEVY CAMARO CONVERTIBLE

  • MSRP: $36,185 (Base price starts at $30,000)
  • Engine/Horsepower: 3.6-liter, V6/312
  • Fuel Mileage: 18-city/29-hwy
  • Highlights: GM’s OnStar Roadside Assistance/Concierge Service; a 6-speed manual transmission; power top; 19-inch wheels; dual exhaust pipes; rearview parking assist sensors; an 8-speaker audio system with 10 subwoofers; an auto dimming rearview mirror; leather seats; fog lights; rear heated glass window
  • Competition: BMW 3-Series convertible and Ford Mustang convertible
WHAT’S NEW: Last year, the Camaro outsold the Mustang without having a convertible in its line up. It’s been over 25 years since the Camaro last wore the new-vehicle sales crown and with the sporty convertible model as an all-new addition to the line up for 2011 Chevy may hold on to its position. PROS: Having a canvas drop top in a 312-horsepower Camaro just heightens the cool factor in this four-seater muscle car. In fact, the vehicle looks just as hot with the top up, as it does topless. For a price point in the $30,000 range, this is definitely within reach for most car buyers. [caption id="attachment_146972" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Let your hair down in the Chevy Camaro (Image: JeffCars.com)"]2011 Chevy Camaro convertible drop[/caption] With Chevy’s new addition, the convertible top on the Camaro can be easily raised or lowered at the push of a button and twisting a latch to lock it in place. Actually, the car doesn’t have to be parked for the top to be activated, allowing for spur-of-the-moment lowering while stopped at a stoplight. And while the top is down, an optional dealer-installed windscreen can be installed behind the front seats to limit wind buffeting. Also, unlike convertibles of the past, the body doesn’t twist or turn when driving over bumps. The folks at GM were able to do this by bolstering the structure of the suspension rather than softening it. This results in a convertible that preserves nearly all the acceleration, road-holding and performance capabilities we found in the Camaro coupe. Added to that, GM engineers reinforced the structure of the vehicle by improving the noise and vibration characteristics, while also contributing to the elimination of cowl/steering wheel shake, which was a common problem of past convertibles. Furthermore, adding the RS package, which consisted of 20-inch painted wheels, high-intensity headlights and a rear spoiler, enhanced the overall appearance and ride of the convertible I reviewed. Chevy’s engineers also gave the Camaro convertible a clean look by placing the AM/FM radio antenna inside the rear spoiler. According to the folks at GM, this patent-pending design creates a sleeker appearance. For LT models without a rear spoiler (without the RS package), the combined antenna is located in the center of the deck lid. CONS: Ironically, due to the frigid temperatures and the ATL’s recent stormy days, I spent more time with the canvas top up than down. While “Hotlanta” didn’t live up to its name, I managed to squeeze a few snapshots with the top down—before the frigid dreary weather returned. [caption id="attachment_146973" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Chilly nights require a little more cover (Image: JeffCars.com)"][/caption] And like most convertibles, the trunk space is limited when the top is down. Now while the relocation of the trunk lock switch cylinder cleans up the Camaro’s appearance, it seems quite unusual to find the trunk release switch located between the rear seat back cushions. (As a side note, the keyless remote fob also offers easy trunk access without looking for the trunk switch). FINAL VERDICT: With additions like the convertible being added to the Camaro line up, the cool-looking sports car will continue to give the Mustang convertible a run for its money. The drop top Camaro’s fresh, eye-catching appeal is sure to win over a number of Ford buyers and possibly a number of import converts, too. With the top up or down, this well-built convertible is a winner in my book. Both young and old will be saving up their coins to relive the old days again with the spanking new Camaro convertible. Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com.

Banker, beware. (Image: ThinkStock)

These days, 90% of Americans have a mobile phone and, according to The Nielsen Company, more than half will be using a smartphone by the end of 2011. In addition to browsing the Web, running various productivity applications (and, of course, making phone calls) an increasing number of consumers are using their Blackberries, iPhones, and Android devices for banking.

“Banking over a cell phone isn’t fantasy, it’s a reality that many banks are offering their customers to check their balance, find the nearest ATM and even pay a bill,” says Jeff Kopchik, an FDIC Senior Policy Analyst specializing in technology issues. “It means increased convenience and flexibility, especially for people who do a lot of traveling.”

For example, Kopchik notes, many banks can send alerts to customers’ smartphones advising them if they are about to overdraw their account or if the bank has detected suspicious activity.

The Web-based version of mobile banking, in which customers access the bank’s Web site using the browser on their smartphone, is the most prevalent option. However, app-based services, in which customers download specific software that runs on their phone, are quickly becoming popular because they are more user friendly.

Here are three things to do before you start banking from your smartphone.

1) Ask your bank if there’s a cost. As with online banking, most banks don’t charge customers extra for mobile banking, but don’t assume that it’s free.

2) Take security precautions. Make sure that your phone or the mobile-banking application you’d be using is password protected. That way, if you lose your phone, someone else can’t access your bank account without having your password.

Also confirm with your bank that account numbers, passwords and other sensitive details are not stored on the phone, where they could be retrieved by a thief. Another thing to remember is that both Web- and application- based mobile banking systems are more secure than those that use text messaging.

“You may also want to consider purchasing anti-virus software to run on your phone, since it’s only a matter of time before the viruses that attempt to infect your home computer migrate to smartphones,” adds Kopchik.

3) Make sure you understand what’s at risk if something goes wrong. “Some banks and other companies offer the option to use your smartphone to transfer relatively small amounts of money to friends and family,” says Rob Drozdowski, a Senior Technology Specialist at the FDIC. “These are called person-to-person payments or ‘P2P’ payments, and you should not only ask what fees are associated with them, but you should understand what happens if a payment gets sent to the wrong person.”

To learn more about mobile banking, start with your bank’s web site to see what services the company offers and how they are provided. Ask friends and family if they use mobile banking and what they think of it. And, as with any other product or service, make sure you understand how it works so you can make an informed decision about whether mobile banking is right for you.

SOURCE: FDIC Consumer News