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Three Steps to Protect Your Smartphone from Fake Banking Apps

Harrisburg, PA - Amid reports that thousands of consumers in other countries may have had personal and financial information stolen through fake smartphone bank apps, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann reminds Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant when using their new smartphones found under the tree to conduct financial transactions.

Last year, the internet security firm Avast discovered malware installed in flashlight and solitaire apps that targeted banking apps already installed on people’s smartphones. The malware allowed criminals to steal username and passwords information from legitimate banking apps used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

According to a 2017 Google study, four in 10 smartphone owners use their phones to conduct financial transactions. Wiessmann also noted that Avast conducted a worldwide survey of smartphone users, revealing that most respondents confused legitimate mobile banking apps with fake apps.

“The introduction of innovative technology into financial services has provided tremendous benefits to our economy and convenience for consumers,” said Wiessmann. “However, scam artists also see opportunities when people do not vigorously protect themselves when using the latest technology.”

Wiessmann points to three tactics that can help consumers protect their smartphones from fake apps:

  1. Shop for apps from official app stores such as Google Play and Apple. Though using these stores cannot guarantee all apps are legitimate, the official app stores have security measures in place to help reduce risk to your smartphone.

  2. Verify that the app you want to download is legitimate by contacting your bank or credit union.

  3. Keep the operating system and anti-virus software on your smartphone up-to-date.

Wiessmann urges consumers to be informed. Know the “red flags” of scams and fraud and who you can contact if you believe you are a victim. Additional resources: “

Anyone can contact the Department of Banking and Securities at 1-800-PA-BANKS or 1-800-600-0007 to ask questions or file complaints about financial transactions, companies, or products. Members of the public are also invited to connect to the department through Facebook and Twitter, or subscribing to the department’s newsletter.

Tomorrow: “Five Ways to Protect Yourself from Card ‘Shimmers’ During Holiday Shopping, Traveling Season”

MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia Lucy - 717.214.4759

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