Is It Safe To Have Banking and Investing Apps on My Phone?

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Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions, by money expert Clark Howard.

Is It Secure To Put Banking and Investing Apps on My Phone?

Mutt from Minnesota asks: “What are your thoughts on banking and investing apps on your phone? It seems like two-factor authentication usually uses the phone, either email or text, so that if the phone is lost or stolen, someone may have pretty much access to all of your accounts.”

Clark’s Take on How To Protect Financial Phone Apps

Clark says: “So the question is, do you have your phone password-protected? If you don’t and you’re relying on two-factor authentication for banking or any of a variety of things, please set up security on your phone.”

Clark uses his fingerprint to unlock his phone. “If that fails I can put in a code — a PIN — to override it,” he says, adding that some people use facial recognition authentication on their devices.

But Clark says having just one security feature on your device isn’t enough anymore. Even with two-factor authentication, someone can steal your service, rather than your phone.

“They hijack your SIM, and your phone now rings to them — not to you,” he says. “And this is a big security hole with T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, where sophisticated criminals have been able to take over your cell phone number.”

So Clark recommends the following extra security to safeguard your phone:

  • Take advantage of the security features provided by banking and brokerage firm apps (For example, the Schwab app lets you set up a six-digit security token for account access.)
  • Put two-factor authentication on your device as well.

“We can’t protect against every possibility or every eventuality, but it is a good precaution to use the apps provided by brokerages and banks, because there’s extra security with that versus accessing on a laptop and having two-factor authentication set up,” Clark says.

To hear Clark’s full take on this question, listen to the segment:

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If you have a question but don’t want to go on the air, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center for free money help.


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