The financial world is at our fingertips. There are hundreds of fintech— an acronym for “financial technology”—mobile device apps from which to choose.
Some of these apps are used to make deposits, transfer money, and look up bank account information. Others allow you to pay bills, keep tabs on your credit score, or make purchases.
You want to be extremely careful when downloading any type of finance app to a smartphone or tablet.
While conducting any financial transaction online is not 100% free of security risk, you can reduce the chances of having your data or identity compromised by taking a few common-sense steps when searching for and downloading a financial services app.
1. Use your bank’s app
Your safest bet is to conduct your financial transactions using your bank’s own app. All the major banks offer an app to conduct many of the same transactions that can be done via an ATM.
2. Only download apps that use encryption and other safety measures
Contact the app’s developer and ask if the app protects your data in transit, meaning as data travels between your device and their servers and if data at rest is protected, which means they safely store any of your saved data.
3. Read reviews and TOS
Peer reviews in app stores are great ways to view others’ experiences with the app, including any security incidents. Also, take the time to read through the Terms of Service when downloading a financial app. The TOS will often contain additional privacy and security information.
4. Use mobile antimalware
Install antivirus/antimalware software on your mobile device if you use the device for financial transactions.
iOS users are often of the mindset that iOS devices are inherently safe from viruses and malware. In fact, Apple has been accused of pulling security apps from its store because Cupertino is very assured of its devices’ security. However, there is a good security app for iOS: Trend Micro Mobile Security.
5. Research the developer
Finally, take some time to research the app’s developer. Does the company have a professional website? Have they created other apps?
Lone developers without much Web presence or ones in remote places may raise red flags than established companies.