During the holidays, many Americans are forced to be extra cautious when it comes to keeping up with their credit cards and watching their surroundings, as thieves are more plentiful during Christmas, looking to take advantage of an unsuspecting consumer. With the holiday season also being the season to stay safe, mobile banking is becoming more popular among consumers.
The popularity of mobile banking has now led to more convenience for Americans and safer transactions that can be done through their mobile phones. While there are still dangers that arise from banking on your smartphone, a number of dangers were also extracted from the holidays.
According to a report from Javelin Strategy & Research, mobile banking is now used by 33 percent of mobile consumers, which is a 24 percent increase from 2011. Now, most financial institutions are finding it more helpful to provide their customers with apps where they can transfer money and check to see how much money they have available in their accounts or on their credit cards.
One of the most troubling problems that consumers run into when using their financial institution's mobile app services is not being able to access their account. The number of Americans who aren't able to access their mobile banking services at their bank has more than tripled since 2009 from 4 percent to more than 14 percent in 2012.
“Mobile access continues to improve, yet year after year more consumers say, ‘My bank offers it, but I can’t access it,’" said Mary Monahan, executive vice president and research director of mobile at Javelin. "Considering the multiplicity of devices that consumers use for mobile banking, providing access is a service provider’s headache. Our report shows key user demographics and shifts in consumer mobile banking behavior and what financial institutions need to do to meet mobile banking demands for services, device proliferation, and mode of access.”
Protecting yourself from identity thieves
While banks are looking for ways to allow consumers to access their accounts easier, Americans are looking for way to keep their belongings and credit safe during the holidays. Identity theft also increases drastically during the holidays, as many consumers use their credit cards more and criminals look to take advantage.
Shoppers are encouraged to protect themselves and their credit and debit cards during the holiday season to ensure their new year doesn't start off with a hefty bill on items they didn't purchase.
According to Anthony Caputa, personal finance counselor for Genesis Financial Management, which is a nonprofit debt management company, people should utilize their debit cards as opposed to their credit cards, which could charge higher interest rates to users.
“Only spend what you have,” Caputa said. “We all like to buy Christmas presents for loved ones, but you don’t want to spend too much. And that’s usually where people get in trouble with credit cards because they think they have more than they really do.”
If consumers feel like they will be able to pay back the credit card company without any issues, they are encouraged to use credit so they can build up their credit score, as long as they aren't overspending in an attempt to get everyone a present for the holidays.
Americans are also encouraged not to max out their credit cards during the holidays, because it could cause their credit score to decrease. Signing up for a service that gives consumers a chance to be notified when their credit score changes is encouraged for the holiday season, considering the number of identity thefts that occur each year.