Many fear online banking, thinking it unsafe. Learn the steps you need to take that can make online banking as safe as visiting your local branch.
Is online banking safe?
You bet it is. One could even argue that people using online banking are in a better position to detect suspicious activity on their accounts sooner than those using more traditional banking methods. Many people that fall prey to phishing scams are quick to blame their bank. Phishing doesn’t make online banking unsafe. Getting tricked into forking over your online banking login information isn’t the bank’s fault. So despite all the attention in the press regarding phishing scams and stolen ID’s, you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that online banking isn’t safe.
Bank’s offering online services provide many security measures to protect their members while they make online transactions. They do their part to protect their members but it’s your job to do all you can to secure transactions from your end.
The following are steps you can take to protect your account:
- Type in web addresses. Access your online banking accounts by carefully typing their web addresses into your browser or using a trusted bookmark you created on a previous visit. You can usually access your accounts through your bank’s home page.
- Keep your browser up-to-date. Use current web browsers and keep them up-to-date by applying the latest security patches. The same applies to your computer’s operating system. Keep it up-to-date, thoroughly patched as well. You should also take the time to configure both your computer and browser correctly to maximize your protection.
- Use a firewall. If your computer’s operating system has a firewall, use it at all times. If your computer didn’t come with a firewall, get one. This is especially important if your computer is connected to the internet via DSL or cable. Depending on your configuration and habits (do you turn your computer off at night?) your computer could be exposed to intrusions that might compromise your computer’s security.
- Use strong logon names and passwords. When creating logons and passwords, use safe password practices so that no one can easily access your bank account by guessing your logon or password. Don’t share either your logon or password with anyone and don’t leave them in plain view where someone might see them.
- Log out when you’re done. When you’ve finished your online transactions, always click the “Log Out” button, if there is one, to terminate your connection. Don’t end your session by just closing your browser.
How to protect your online bank accounts from phishing:
- Never follow a link to your account in an email.
- Assume any email asking you to click a link to logon to your account is a phishing scam.
- When in doubt about communications from your bank via email, call them directly using a phone number known to you.
- Be wary of emails warning you your account access has been terminated or limited and that you must act immediately to resolve the problem.
- We wary of free offers available for a limited time.
How to protect your bank account from unauthorized access
Access to your bank account should be tightly controlled. We have easy 5 tips on how to protect your bank account from unauthorized access.
- Be stingy about who you share your bank account number and routing information with.
This one seems obvious but tricksters are constantly coming up with new ways of conning you into giving them your banking information. You should only share such important information if it’s for the purposes of making a transaction with a business you know very well. Never, ever, ever give out this information unless you initiated the sale. Unsolicited telemarketers should never be given access to your banking information! If this information falls into the wrong hands you could be in a world of hurt. If a crook gets access to your bank account, they can withdraw money via “demand draft” or “remotely created check” or transferring funds electronically. They often request credit card and debit numbers and other personal information. Be alert and don’t be fooled by these scams. Never sign up for “free trial offers.” Get yourself off telemarketing phone lists, call the National Do Not Call Registry and have yerself put on the “no call” list.
- Review your bank statements carefully..
Review all checks, automatic payments, debits and cash withdrawls and look for any activity you didn’t authorize. If you discover anything suspicious, call your bank or credit union right away. If you can access your bank account on the web, log on and review your transactions often. Don’t wait for a monthly statement. Speed is of the essence if someone has gained access to your funds! Being alert for fraud will help you detect it fast, so you can shut it down immeditaely.
- Let your bank know there’s a problem immediately.
We said it before and we’ll say it again – speed is of the essence if someone is accessing your bank account. Don’t sit on it for a day. Report suspicious activity the moment you detect it. If your bank requires you to submit fraud notifications in writing, keep a copy of all correspondances until the issue is resolved. If you suspect fraud may be involved, contact your state’s attorney general.
- Make sure you can cover your checks.
Only write checks or authorize debits if you have the funds in your account to cover them. Checks are processed a lot faster than they used to be and money is debited from accounts almost immediately. In addition, many businesses convert checks into electronic payments, which means money is quickly debited from accounts. If there aren’t enough funds in your account, you’ll wind up paying a hefty fee.
- Consumer Protection Laws – Know your rights!
If there’s an issue with one of your electronic debits or EFT’s, the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) gives you certain rights. Ditto for issues with converted checks.