There’s no denying that online banking is convenient. You no longer have to call or visit your bank to check account balances and you can even go online to pay bills electronically rather than bothering to fill out checks and mail them in with pay stubs. Plus, you can set up automatic bill pay to make your life even easier. Unfortunately, using online banking, like any online service, does come with inherent security risks. And when your finances are at stake, you want to do whatever you can to ensure your personal safety. Banking institutions have done a lot to set your mind at ease, including setting up secure networks, utilizing encryption software, and adding layers of protection. But there are also steps you can take to make your usage safer. Here are some tips and tactics to ensure that your online banking experience is safe and secure.
- Set a strong password. The place to begin is with a password that will be difficult to crack. In most cases, you’ll be required to use a minimum of eight characters. And rather than creating a password that could be linked to your personal life, consider selecting a series of random letters and numbers that would be difficult to guess for anyone who knows you or gains access to your personal information. In other words, don’t use pet names, your birth date, or other personal info. And don’t elect to save your password on your computer – enter it manually every time.
- Use dual authentication if offered. Most online banking now offers the option for dual (or two-factor) authentication, and you should take advantage of this added security feature. In addition to entering your username and password every time you log in, you’ll also be asked a security question (which you choose at the outset) in order to further verify that you’re the one logging into your accounts.
- Don’t use mobile devices. It’s tempting to use your smartphone or tablet to manage your online banking on the go, but this is best avoided. Although banks have the highest security measures in place to protect your accounts, you need to understand that mobile networks are not safe, especially if your devices are set to use WiFi networks when they’re available. It’s all too easy for hackers to gain access to your devices when you use them in public, so try to confine your online banking activities to your home and your personal computer if you want the best chance to avoid a security breach.
- Check your account regularly. If you want to make sure that fraudulent charges and mistakes aren’t showing up on your accounts, you need to exercise personal responsibility by taking the time to check your statements against receipts for continuity.
- Don’t give information to anyone. This sounds pretty obvious, and yet, you may feel inclined to trust someone close to you with your online banking passwords for some reason. Standard banking safety measures can only do so much to protect you and then you need to take steps to protect yourself. No matter how much you trust your spouse, your kids, or your mom, keep your online banking information private. This will ensure that any breach of your accounts is not your fault.