Online banking is one of the most convenient services available and offers individuals, businesses, and organizations a way to quickly and easily manage their finances. Unfortunately, online banking is also vulnerable to all of the same security risks that stem from the virtual nature of the internet. It’s important to take steps to ensure that your hard earned money is secure from theft and fraud.
You wouldn’t want to suddenly realize that your bank account has been drained of your hard-earned cash!
Let’s take a look at a dozen ways to keep your money safe while banking online.
Create Strong, Unique Passwords
A strong password is the cornerstone of any good security protocol. Incorporating a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters prevents hackers from easily guessing your password. Also, making sure to utilize different passwords for each of your online accounts will make it much harder for hackers to gain access to multiple accounts if one of your passwords is compromised.
Would you be surprised to learn that most people use the same password for all of their online accounts? This presents a huge security risk and should be avoided at all costs.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
In combination with a strong, secure password, two-factor authentication can be an effective tool in keeping your finances secure. Two-factor authentication requires an additional security measure, such as a text message or email PIN, or a code via an authentication app to gain access to an account. Most major banking and financial services websites offer two-factor authentication as an additional layer of protection.
Using two-factor authentication can be especially helpful if you are using a public or shared computer to access your finances.
Check Your Transactions Regularly
It’s important to consistently review your bank account transactions and make sure that there are no unexplained or suspicious purchases being made. This can help to quickly identify any false charges or fraudulent transactions and enable you to take immediate action before additional funds are stolen.
This will also make sure that the institutions you bank with are properly handling your money and accurately recording your transactions.
Add Websites to your Bookmarks/Favorites
Add the home page of financial websites that you use to your browser’s bookmarks/favorites, to help save time each time you visit the site, and help prevent mistyping the address in the future or getting re-directed to a phishing website through a search hijack.
Utilize Account Alerts
Most online banking sites also offer alerts for transactions, account balances, and other financial activities. These alerts can help you to stay on top of any suspicious activity and stay informed about your finances. Alerts can be sent to your email and/or cell phone as a SMS text message in most cases.
You can also set up alerts for any suspicious or fraudulent activity such as large withdrawals or purchases that exceed your usual spending patterns. This can help you to quickly detect any problems and take swift action if necessary.
If you’re unable to check your accounts frequently these alerts are the next best thing.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Avoid logging into your accounts on public/shared Wi-Fi networks, as these networks are far more vulnerable to interception and snooping than private networks. You never know who might be lurking on a public network, waiting to snoop on what websites you are visiting.
If you must access your online accounts on public Wi-Fi, to be secure, your entire visit to each site should be encrypted (meaning that the URL starts with https) — from the time you log in to the site until you log out. If you think you’re logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.
Alternatively, if you frequently need to use public Wi-Fi to access online accounts, consider using an encrypted VPN service to protect your data from malicious users. A VPN will create a privacy barrier between you and the website, encrypting any data that your device transmits and making it virtually impossible for hackers to steal your information.
Keep Your Software and Operating System Updated
Make sure that you always keep your computer and mobile device operating systems and software programs up to date. Older versions of the software can potentially be more vulnerable to security breaches and can be used to gain access to your personal information and financial accounts.
While not as common as the other vulnerabilities, some malicious software can be installed without your knowledge, allowing hackers access to any data stored on your device.
Be Careful With Your Information
When dealing with online banking, it’s important to be mindful of the type of information you share. Never give out bank account numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information to anyone, even if they claim to be from your bank. If you receive a suspicious email or phone call, contact your bank directly to confirm its legitimacy.
There is no legitimate reason that you will be contacted to provide sensitive information over the phone, text or email. Scammers will sometimes ask to remotely view your screen and have you login to online banking so they can “help” with a security or financial problem. Obviously, never login to online banking while someone that you don’t know is watching – no matter how urgent the scammer says that the matter is.
If you store passwords in your web browser, make sure that your computer or device is also password-protected so that anyone viewing your computer besides yourself can’t see any logins you may save for financial accounts.
Use Only Reputable Sites
It’s important to only use reputable and secure sites for online banking. Make sure to check the website’s security features and make sure that it uses a secure connection, indicated with the “https” in the URL address and/or a padlock icon to the left of the website address.
You should also be sure to research the reputation of any online banking institutions that you are considering utilizing. Be sure to read customer reviews and research the institution’s track record regarding customer protection and security.
Smartphone apps are okay, as long as they are legitimate
When downloading a banking app on your smartphone – or any other app – make sure you look for the official app, from your financial institution with a good rating and lots of user reviews and downloads. Scammers occasionally get their fake apps into app stores that look legitimate – but they aren’t.
Avoid installing browser extensions
There are lots of websites that push browser extension to “help” you track packages, find recipes, or block ads. But many of these browser extensions can read all of the information on all of the websites you visit. Let me say that again, browser extensions can read all of the information on all of the websites you visit – including your bank. That’s why you should avoid all browser extensions unless you know the source of the extension is a company that you would trust to not read your financial logins and information.
Do Your Due Diligence
Online banking is an incredibly convenient way to manage your finances, however, it is important to take measures to ensure that your money is safe from theft and fraud.
Never be afraid to do your due diligence when it comes to protecting your financial information. A few extra minutes of caution can save you a lot of stress, not to mention your hard-earned cash.
By following the tips outlined above, you can rest assured that your finances will be secure and you can organize and manage your finances!
If you have any other questions or need help with your online banking security don’t hesitate to contact us!