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How safe are our finances?

Online Banking
By Sally Walton
18 April 2023
Banking & Payments
Technology, Media & Telecomms

Steve Jobs launched the iPhone by saying it would be a computer in your pocket.  That was 16 years ago and almost overnight it became true, and still is today.  Whether you are an Android or iPhone user, the truth is that our lives are (or at least can be) controlled by one device – our phone.  In today’s fast paced world our phone is a blessing.  We can do everything, from ordering forgotten ingredients, to diagnosing car troubles, and yet have we stopped to think about the impact on our lives if our phone were stolen? 

A friend of mine was mugged recently.  The culprits only wanted one thing – not money, credit cards or her designer handbag – just her phone.  Oh, and to change the face ID on the phone and take her Apple ID password - in essence, taking the keys to the safety box for all Apple Pay, bank accounts, savings accounts and share dealing sites.  All available on her phone with passwords ‘saved’ - her whole life handed over to a stranger in the space of 60 seconds.

We often hear a great deal about different ways to safely bank online by avoiding public Wi-Fi when accessing our banking apps or tips to avoid using fake mobile banking apps, but what happens when you literally hand all of your banking log-ins and passwords to a thief?  Not via the internet, but via your best friend – your phone. 

Once the mugger has changed the face ID to their own and gained your apple ID –they would be away.  Many banking apps ask you to verify any transaction requests… also via your phone.  If the thief has all your details, then at the flick of a button they can transfer your hard-earned savings from one bank account to another and before you know it – you have been fleeced. 

And one final thing: don’t keep your bank cards and mobile phone together. A thief can easily register your card as stolen and gain control of your bank account, changing access settings to lock you out.

This article isn’t intended to scare you but simply to serve as a reminder to look at your phone and question whether you really need every link to your financial world available at the touch of a button.  In the old days (and many of you won’t remember this!) you had a savings book and would have to take it into a building society to withdraw your savings. I’m not suggesting we go back to those days but perhaps we could audit the apps on our phones to see if they need to be quite as accessible.