Online banking safety tips help you protect your financial transactions from fraud, identity theft, and any unauthorized access to your personal information. Essentially, those tips are best practices that have been developed by banks for customer cyber security. Here are nine critical ones.
Ensure the bank website is encrypted
Encryption is the process of scrambling the data transmitted so that the information is not accessible to hackers. This is indicated by a tiny icon of a lock or key.
Install quality anti-virus software
In itself, this can deter hackers. They will move on to vulnerable computers.
Create a strong password
Hackers are adept at figuring out what customers will use for a password. For example, that could be a combination of a last name and date of birth. That’s why one of the best online banking safety tips is to create a strong password. Create a novel password which has no association with proper names, milestone dates, and number sequences such as last four digits of your Social Security number. Do not share the password with anyone. If in an emergency you do, then change it immediately. After keying in a password, never leave your online banking account unattended, not even to walk to the water cooler.
Beware unexpected email from the bank
A common scam is to create a copy-cat version of the bank’s website, complete with logo. Likely you will receive an email configured that way. The tone will be urgent. That could be a warning the account will be closed without your immediate response. There will be a request for your account information or “click here” instructions which will bring you to a rogue website. Before doing anything, check with the bank if it contacted you by email.
When banking, keep only one browser tab or application open
Multitasking, such as reading email or playing a video game, exposes the banking transaction to hackers monitoring those other sites. At the very least, they can capture your keystrokes. At the worst, they can navigate from the application right into your account.
After completing transactions, log out
Leaving the account open makes it accessible to hackers. Also clear the cache and close the browser.
Don’t transact banking business on public computers or shared wi-fi
You are at the public library and remember you have to pay your utility bill. Your computer is back at the office. The library’s public computers and open wi-fi networks can be catnip to hackers. It is not wise to use them, but if you do, call the bank afterward to change your password.
Set up a notification system
You can specify what you want the bank to notify you about and how. For example, for any check over $500, you request email notification. This allows rapid response to possible fraud.
Alert the bank if you are a victim of a scam
Suddenly, you realize that the email was a con and you did provide account information. Let your bank know immediately.
The good news is that online banking is a mature financial service. Over the years, banks have learned a great deal about cyber security, both for their own protection and that of their customers. Increasingly, the bad guys are getting the message, “Don’t even think about hacking us.”
Do you have any other online banking safety tips? Share yours in the comments!