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Banking by phone, tablet? Protect yourself

March 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Remember when banking on your computer was a big innovation? Now it's all about banking on the move. If you use your cellphone or iPad for banking, you need to take some important security precautions.

Using a cellphone or iPad for banking is very convenient. While on the go you can check your balance, transfer money, and even pay bills. But as with any high-tech device, criminals have figured out ways to hack into private accounts.

Like a growing number of people, Katy Rosati does almost all her banking on her smartphone.

"I don't need to find an ATM or a computer to know what's going on in my bank account," says Rosati.

Consumer Reports Money Adviser says banking on a cellphone is like having an ATM in your pocket.

"Text banking can be done with the simplest of phones," says Money Adviser writer Greg Daugherty. "You send messages to get your account balances, and you get text messages when your balance is low or when your withdrawals or deposits are posted."

If you have a smartphone or a tablet computer, you can transfer money and pay bills, too.

"There are also banking applications designed specifically for your bank and model of phone. Chase, for example, will let you take a picture of your check with your camera phone and deposit it," says Daugherty.

But you do need to make sure your banking on-the-go is secure.

"Never do mobile banking on a public Wi-Fi network," says Daugherty. "And when you're on your bank's website, always look for the little lock symbol in the browser to know that you're on a secure site."

It's also a good idea to install security software. That way you can safely join 39 million other Americans who already do mobile banking.

"I know exactly what's in my account, when things have cleared, you know, when money is coming out. I feel very on top of my finances," says Rosati.

Along with the convenience, Consumer Reports Money Adviser says there's another plus with banking on your cellphone: Banks typically don't charge extra fees for this service.