Banking security tips

The best defense against fraud is you. Learn more about fraud and arm yourself with the knowledge to stay safe online.

How Rogue mobile banking apps work

Criminals may repackage and publish malicious apps that look like Bank of the West's mobile apps. Once downloaded, the fake app may infect your phone with a Trojan virus in order to steal your Online Banking username and password.

Only download the Bank of the West mobile app from trusted sources such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. Don't download or install mobile banking apps if you see any of the following warning signs:


  • Developer or author of the app is not Bank of the West

  • App is being promoted on a third party site, outside of the official app store associated with your mobile device

  • There’s a charge for downloading the app

Learn more about Mobile malware

Just like computer malware, mobile malware is designed to steal sensitive information and data. Malware can infect your phone through Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth. Because smartphones can easily connect to wireless networks, it’s easier to download malware. For your protection, only use secure and trusted Wi-Fi networks and only accept Bluetooth connections from people you know. Also, keep Bluetooth switched off when not in use.

What is SMiShing?

SMiShing (short for “SMS phishing”) uses cell phone messages to deliver the "bait.” A fraudster may pose as your financial institution and use an SMS (text message) to try to get your account information.

How it works


A typical scam informs the victim, via SMS, that their account was compromised or that their ATM card was deactivated. The victim is directed to call a phone a number or visit a spoofed website to reactivate their card. On the website or in the automated phone system, the victim is asked to provide their card number, PIN and /or account numbers.


  • For your protection, don't respond to texts that request personal or financial information. Bank of the West will never ask you for such information in this way. Add Bank of the West's short code BKWST (25978) to your device's contacts with a distinctive name, so that you will recognize messages are from us

Tips to avoid a lost or stolen device

Mobile phones and tablets offer convenience, but they're also easy to lose or steal.


  • Password or fingerprint-protect your device so it can't be accessed unless the password or registered fingerprint is entered

  • Turn on automatic screen-locking to secure your device when it’s not in use

  • Consider a remote wipe program, which will send a command to your device to delete any data if your device is lost or stolen

  • Keep a record of the device's make, model and serial number in case it's stolen

If you lose your device or change your mobile phone number, delete the old number from your Preference Center or call Bank of the West at 1-800-488-2265, select option 3. TTY 1-800-659-5495.

Tips on keeping your mobile device secure

  • Use your device's power-on password feature and keep the device locked when not in use
  • Never store personal information like passwords or PINs in texts, notes or emails that can be accessed on your device
  • Install anti-malware protection for your smartphone, tablet, e-reader or any other device that has mobile internet access. This software can scan the device, identify and remove malware, plus check applications for malware before downloading them
  • Don’t root or jailbreak your device to bypass limitations set by your carrier or the device’s manufacturer. Doing so could remove any built-in protections against mobile threats
  • Beware of downloads to your device, especially apps. Only use reputable app markets. Look at the developer's name, and check out reviews and star ratings. Always check the permissions an app requests and ensure that the permissions match the features it provides
  • If you visit a website through your device and the URL (web address) looks suspicious, close it down right away
  • When in doubt, don't respond. Fraudulent texts, calls and voicemails are on the rise. Just like with email, requests for personal information or a call for immediate action are almost always a scam
  • Use account nicknames instead of account numbers. Do not include any digits from your account numbers in nicknames
  • Consider using a remote wipe program; this will give you the ability to send a command to your device that will delete any data if the device is lost or stolen
  • Be aware of your surroundings and use your device discreetly at places where you feel unsafe
  • Never leave your device unattended in public and don’t leave it visible in an unattended car; lock it in the glove compartment or trunk

Online security

  • Memorize your Username and Password. Never write them down anywhere, save them to your computer, or reveal them to anyone
  • Create a Password that:

    • Has 8–12 characters, 4 different characters (no repeats) and at least 1 special character/symbol
    • Includes letters and numbers (Upper and lower case letters)
    • Is a sequence of random letters and numbers
    • Isn't a common word or name or easy to guess

  • Change your Password regularly. You can change your Password in Online Banking from the Services & Support page
  • Always log out of your Online Banking session and close all browsers. Don't rely on our session time-out feature
  • Verify the security certificate of every website before you provide any sensitive information. Bank of the West uses VeriSign Secured and Secure Sockets Layer technology (SSL "lock"). Click on the VeriSign logo to confirm a site's authenticity. When completing online transactions involving passwords, PINs or account numbers, look for the SSL lock first

    • Check for the lock icon in the status bar of your browser. This means that the website uses encryption to protect your information. Make sure the lock icon is closed indicating that encryption is on. Double-click it to display the security certificate. The security certificate information should match the name of the site you're on

  • Don't share any confidential information through suspicious emails, websites, social media networks, texts or phone calls
  • Protect your personal or business account information, including your Online Banking username, password and answers to security questions
  • If you receive a suspicious email, don't click any links or reply to it. Delete it
  • Avoid using a public or shared computer for business and financial transactions
  • If your computer is infected with a virus, run anti-virus software to remove it and change passwords on all your financial and business accounts, including your email account, using a secure device
  • Make sure each computer you use has current software security patches and anti-virus software. Anti-virus software requires frequent updates to guard against new viruses
  • Install a personal firewall to help prevent unauthorized access to your home computer
  • Wireless access should be secured with strong password encryption. Be cautious when using public hotspots and consider your Wi-Fi auto-connect settings
  • Don't include account or sensitive information if you are communicating with us via onlinebanking@bankofthewest.com. If you use Online Banking, visit the Contact Us section to send a secure message

Email security

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails containing urgent appeals for security, business or personal information
  • Spelling errors can help fraudulent emails get through your spam filters
  • Never open attachments, click on links or respond to emails from suspicious or unknown senders
  • If you receive a suspicious email that you think is a phish, simply delete it
  • To report a suspicious email that uses Bank of the West's name, forward it to abuse@bankofthewest.com
    • Then delete the email from your inbox and deleted items

View fraudulent email examples

Scam prevention

  • Use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Never give personal information to a stranger who contacts you, whether by phone, email or other means
  • You are responsible and liable for items you cash or deposit into your account
  • Be wary of offers of mortgage modification, foreclosure rescue, or short sale scams involving money-back guarantees, title transfers, up-front fees, or high pressure sales tactics
  • No matter how urgent someone claims a deal or job offer is, you should research and confirm its legitimacy

If your device is stolen or lost:

  • Immediately contact your wireless carrier to report the loss and suspend your mobile service
  • If stolen, report the theft to the police. Include the make and model, serial and IMEI or MEID number of your device. Some carriers require proof that the device was stolen, and a police report will do
  • Call Bank of the West at 1-800-488-2265, select option 3, to delete your mobile number from your Preference Center
  • As soon as possible, change any passwords for online accounts you access through your mobile device (for example, your Online Banking password)
  • For additional information, see Stolen and lost wireless devices

Contact us to report:

Fraud or suspicious activity

1-800-488-2265
TTY 1-800-659-5495

Lost or stolen credit cards

1-800-996-3648

Suspicious Bank of the West emails

abuse@bankofthewest.com