Tips for safer mobile phone use

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Nowadays, we use our mobile phones for all sorts of things. From calling your grandparents, to managing your savings with the Marcus app, your phone is probably rarely out of sight.

As your device becomes more useful to you, unfortunately, this also means it’s more useful for fraudsters and thieves who may be interested in getting access to your information.

To help you stay safe whilst using your mobile phone, we’ve partnered with our Fraud Team to share these five tips.

1. Use strong passwords and PINs

Chances are, you pick up and unlock your phone many times throughout the day and so you might have a phone PIN that’s quick and simple to enter. But this is risky as, if your phone gets lost or stolen, it could be easier for someone to guess your PIN and access your information.

To help keep your information safe, use strong PINs or passwords to unlock your phone and access mobile apps. This is still important, even if you use other password authentication methods such as fingerprint or facial recognition, as your PIN can still be used to enter your phone.

But what does a ‘strong’ PIN or password actually mean?

  • Your password should contain no obvious patterns, personal information or common words. You should also avoid passwords that could be guessed by someone looking at your social media profiles, or by people who know you.
  • Choose a PIN that’s a complex combination of numbers – and never use your date of birth or bank account number.
  • Make your password and PINs unique by using a different password for each of your accounts. Reusing passwords can be risky as, if someone learns your password for one account, they could access them all.

2. Keep your mobile phone device and apps up to date

Updates not only give you access to the freshest features, but also means you have the latest security improvements that may make it harder for attackers to access your device.

You can do this in your sleep (quite literally) by turning on automatic software updates and selecting a time to complete. For your app updates, follow these instructions for Apple and these for Google.

How to check if you’re using the latest Marcus app

Go to the Marcus app:

Check what appears next to the Marcus logo:

  • ‘Open’ – means you are using the latest version of our app.
  • ‘Update’ – means you are not currently using the latest version, tap the word update to download the latest version.
  • Cloud icon – means you have previously used the app on your phone, tap the cloud to re-download the app.

3. Keep safe in public places

When you’re out and about, keep an eye on your phone and don’t let it get into the hands of strangers. Fraudsters may try to befriend you, or claim they are in an emergency to get access to your device. Be wary of this strategy and, if someone genuinely needs help, perhaps call on their behalf rather than lending them your phone.

Avoid messaging or scrolling while walking. With your head in your phone, you’re less aware of what’s going on around you. Not only does this increase the risk of walking into a lamppost, but it also makes it easier for your phone to be snatched and for someone to access your information whilst the device is unlocked.

Your phone is not as useful to someone unless it’s unlocked, or the person knows your PIN. In public, keep your PIN and login details hidden so if someone does steal your phone, they cannot access your information.

4. Avoid storing your bank card and phone together 

As the world becomes more digital and the days of carrying dozens of cards becomes a thing of the past, you may want to ditch your physical wallet and put your bank card in the back of your phone.

But be careful as, if these two items get into the wrong person’s hands, someone could register your card to their device. Criminals can do this by entering your card details into a banking app, and then reading the verification code from the locked screen of your stolen phone.

To help prevent this, follow these steps to stop notification previews appearing when your phone is locked:

Apple Other
Go to ‘Settings’ on your phone and then head to ‘Messages’, select ‘Notifications’, then ‘Show Previews’ and choose either ‘When Unlocked’ or ‘Never’. Go to ‘Settings’ on your phone and then head to ‘Lock Screen’, 'Notifications', then select the ‘Don’t Show Notifications’ option.

5. Be careful with public wifi

Mobile data can drain quickly, and so public wifi can be a convenient safety net. But be careful when using these networks as this internet source is, well, ‘public’, so anyone can join the network and potentially access your data if it’s not properly secured.

To reduce the risk when using public wifi, avoid accessing any personal information.

Feeling safer already?

Hopefully these tips have helped you feel safer while using your mobile phone. For more information on what you can do to protect yourself, visit our security page.

Other helpful links

Take Five

Financial Fraud Action UK

Action Fraud

This article has been prepared with care; however, it is only intended to highlight issues and it is not intended to be comprehensive.

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