Someone holding a locked phone

9 Things You Can Do Right Now to Secure Your Phone

August 10, 2022
Ron EmmettBy Ron Emmett
IT Director

Every year, fraud is on the rise. While that fact doesn’t seem to change, the methods criminals use are always evolving — and lately they've been targeting your phone.

Just last year, fraud attempts increased by 41%, according to a survey from NICE Actimize, a financial crime, risk and compliance solutions provider. The biggest increase, however, involved mobile payment apps like Venmo and CashApp, which saw a 38% rise in attempted fraud transactions and a 63% increase in dollars stolen.

That's just one of many ways that thieves are targeting your mobile device. In this blog, we'll show you some easy things you can do to protect your phone and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

How to protect your mobile device

Mobile devices are convenient and we rely upon them daily. But cybercriminals have also seized upon this convenience as a way to commit fraud. Consider the following tips to protect your device.

1) Auto-lock your phone.

The most important way to protect your phone is by setting it to lock automatically when you're not using it. Newer phones even have the ability to secure with fingerprint or facial recognition. But if you have an older phone, you can at least use a PIN code to protect it (the FTC recommends creating at least a 6-digit passcode, instead of the basic four digits).

BONUS TIP: For increased security, we also offer Face/Touch ID login options on the SNB Mobile App.

2) Set up "find my phone" in case you lose it.

Most mobile operating systems have a program that will help you find your phone if you lose it — or even lock or erase it if you fear someone stole it. Click the links below for directions on how to turn on this feature.

3) Back up your data.

The FTC also recommends backing up your data on a cloud or your computer. That way if you lose your phone, you'll still have access to your personal information.

4) Keep your device updated.

Apple and Android regularly update their operating systems to patch over any vulnerabilities and keep your device secure. Cybercriminals will target devices using old operating systems that aren’t as well protected. Check the links below for directions to make sure you have the latest software installed on your device.

5) Add two-step verification on your apps.

Get an extra layer of protection. Whenever possible, activate two-step verification or “two-factor authentication” on any online account or mobile app you use. What does this mean? After you enter your password, you want the account to email  or text a unique verification code, or ask you a set of specific questions, to confirm your identity. Just remember — any login code sent to you should always be kept private. Security National Bank, or any other legitimate organization, will never call or text you asking for it.

6) Avoid public wi-fi on your phone.

Free public Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient, but it also poses security risks to the personal information on your device. Never access personal bank accounts or sensitive data on an unsecured public network (one that doesn't require a password). You can also change your phone's settings to prevent automatic Wi-Fi connections:

  • Apple: Go to Settings > Wi-Fi. Tap the (i) next to network name and toggle off Auto-Join.
  • Android: Go to settings > Network & Internet > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi preference. Toggle off Connect to public networks.

7) Watch for phishing attacks.

Scammers will send you fake emails and text messages in an attempt to get you to click and enter your information on a fake webpage. They'll pretend to be a bank, a government entity like the IRS, or even your favorite store — all just to steal your info and gain access to your accounts.  Be suspicious of any communication that comes out of the blue, and asks you to provide personal information. Learn more by reading our article about how to spot a phishing scam.

BONUS TIP: Whether you receive a request for personal information through text, email, or a phone call; a great rule of thumb is to never divulge information unless you initiated the contact. 

8) Only use payment apps for people you know.

Scammers use Venmo and CashApp, because sending money through those payment apps is just like handing someone cash. That's why you should only use payment apps to send money to someone you actually know. And before you click "Send," confirm that you have the correct account information, because scammers will set up fake payment profiles and pose as a friend or family member to trick you into sending money.

BONUS TIP: You can send money safely and securely using Zelle on the SNB Mobile App.

9) Wipe your phone before you donate, sell or trade it.

Are you planning to get rid of your phone? Be sure to wipe it completely to remove all the personal information from the device. Check your owners manual to learn how to do this, use a specialized software or request a permanent wipe from a respected phone dealer if you're trading in your device. 

Want to get great security tips every month?

Subscribe to our free “Security Matters” email newsletter and get great content, handcrafted and delivered to your inbox.