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RISMEDIA, March 25, 2010—The widespread use of mobile banking means more convenience for consumers and offers better ways to monitor account activity. Unfortunately, it also means there are more opportunities for consumer fraud, says Technology Credit Union, a Silicon Valley credit union that has served the financial needs of high tech professionals for 50 years and is an industry leader in online and mobile banking technology.

Credit unions and banks across the country employ multiple forms of identification authentication, log-in procedures and encrypted communications to make sure cyber criminals can’t access confidential banking information while consumers are using a mobile banking application. However, the biggest threat to mobile security isn’t the technology; it’s the fact that many consumers are ignorant of the many fraudulent applications that exist online and on mobile platforms.

“Fraudsters know that the key to their success lies in the consumer,” said Victor Smilgys, Tech CU’s AVP of eCommerce and a mobile banking security expert, “so they are being very crafty in their approach to making the consumer believe an app is harmless and, in some cases, disguising it as a security safeguard. Better education is the key to minimizing these risks.”

Though no specific data exists on the prevalence of mobile banking fraud, The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), says that cyber-crime complaints in general have increased significantly over the past year. The IC3 has received 22.3% more complaints in 2009 than in 2008 for a total loss of $559.7 million (up from $265 million in 2008) all linked to online fraud.

Consumers can significantly minimize the risk of fraud and help protect their identity while using mobile banking services by following these common-sense tips offered by Technology Credit Union.

-Password-protect your mobile device and lock your device when it’s not in use. Keep your mobile device in a safe location.

-Frequently delete text messages from your financial institution on your mobile device, especially if they contain sensitive information.

-Never disclose personal information about your accounts via text message, i.e. account numbers, passwords, or any combination of information that can be used to steal your identity.

-If you change your mobile number or lose your mobile phone, immediately contact your financial institution to change the details of your mobile banking profile.

-Do not hack or modify your device, as this will leave it susceptible to infection from a virus or Trojan. When possible, install mobile security software on your device (if it’s available). Some mobile security solutions include: AhnLab Mobile Security, avast! PDA Edition, Kaspersky Mobile Security, and Norton Smartphone Security.

-Be aware that malware exists and fraudulent applications will continue to pop up. Don’t download applications onto your phone without checking them out first. Verify the legitimacy of an application with your financial institution before downloading it to your smartphone- verify that the app publisher or seller is your financial institution, or if possible, go through your financial institution’s website to download the application.

-Report any banking application that appears to be malicious to your financial institution right away.

-Monitor your financial records and accounts on a regular basis and consider having electronic alerts on account activity sent to your email or mobile device. Regularly review your statements with online banking. This will enable you to spot any suspicious activity

-If you have been a victim of identity theft, contact your financial institution immediately. You should also place a fraud alert on your credit report and continue to review your credit reports, close the accounts that you know (or believe) have been tampered with or opened fraudulently, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Finally, Smilgys points out that using mobile banking can actually help deter some fraud because it gives a person an easy way to check their account on a regular basis and notify their credit union or bank more quickly if they see suspicious activity.

For more information, visit www.TechCU.com.

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