Be app-smart and stay safe
Love using mobile apps? Manage your retirement funds while protecting your personal information with these pointers.
Whenever Dustin Holub wants to look at his checking account balance or view the status of his investment accounts, he simply reaches for his smartphone or tablet. The information is right at his fingertips, thanks to a handy mobile financial app.
Remember life before apps? "I had so many different accounts that it was hard to get a good understanding of where my money was at any given point and time," says the 32-year-old Overland Park, KS, resident. "When I married, there were more accounts to be mindful of. Now the information is all in one spot."
Holub is in good company. An estimated 64 percent of Gen Y employees use smartphones and financial apps for banking, monitoring retirement funds and paying bills, according to the Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM.
Knowing that mobile financial apps are becoming popular, the Principal Financial Group developed the Principal® Mobile App, which allows users to check account balances, use financial calculators and track retirement savings progress. "It's very convenient," says Don Hammond, MBA, CFP® and chief financial officer of Maritime Financial Group in Sheboygan, WI, who uses the app regularly.
Managing accounts and transactions electronically does present some risk, however — notably, identity theft. "In general, it takes a leap of faith to say you are OK with having some information online because there is that risk," says Holub, who works in IT. "But I know that reputable apps have lots of safeguards on the back end to help protect accounts." The Principal Mobile app has third-party secure code reviews to help ensure a high level of security.
Tips for protecting information on your smartphone or tablet
Fortunately, with a few easy steps, you also can do your part to help protect sensitive information on your smartphone and tablet. Here's how:
Create a password on your mobile device to make it harder for someone to access your personal information if your hardware is lost or stolen. Holub uses entry passwords on his phone and tablet as well as with individual apps. "I change my passwords often so there are additional layers of protection," he says. And never store your passwords on your phone. "Believe it or not, this happens a lot," says Hammond.
Do your homework
Research an app before downloading it. Find out who developed it and what it was designed to do.
Seek a secure spot
Think twice before completing a transaction at your favorite coffee shop. If you're in a public place with Wi-Fi, anyone on that network could potentially see what you are doing if they hack into your phone.
Scrutinize your accounts
"Monitor your accounts on a regular basis," urges Hammond. "Make sure there isn't suspicious activity, like an unusual transaction." This recently came in handy for Holub when his wife's credit card number was stolen. "We noticed an unauthorized charge within 24 hours because we carefully review our statements," he says. "This allowed us to report the fraudulent activity in a short amount of time."
Hammond also suggests requesting a free credit report annually with information from each of the three credit reporting bureaus.
Ramp up security
Protect your mobile device with security software. Then, if your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely lock it and wipe sensitive data.
Download the Principal Mobile App today and start monitoring your retirement savings
Get started by downloading the free mobile app to your Apple® iPhone/iPad or AndroidTM phone or tablet.
Once you download the app, you log in with the same username and password you use on principal.com. If you aren't registered, you can set up a username and password online.