Keep your info safe while doing online banking
More banks are offering online banking options as a convenience to customers and now it’s easier than ever to keep track your finances.
A customer can check his bank accounts, transfer funds between accounts, deposit cheques or make a payment by using a computer or mobile apps from anywhere round the clock. However, online banking is not without its risks and there are some basic but crucial steps you can take to protect yourself.
Enable an account with two factor authentication: Adds an extra layer of security while doing online banking transactions and try to get a bank account that offers some form of two factor authentication for online banking. You'll have to input a code texted to your cell phone whenever you sign into an account on a new device for a very short period of time during two factor authentication. Gmail, Evernote and Dropbox are a few examples of online services that offer two-factor authentication.
Create a strong password: Even if your bank requires a strong password, if you store banking data on your computers or mobile devices, make sure they are password protected. The best way to achieve this is by making it long and a mixed of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Always avoid using any common words or phrases and never create a password that contains your name, initials, or your date of birth. Note, one of the easiest ways hackers steal information is by getting a batch of username and password combinations elsewhere. For example, hacker got your username and password by hacking an email provider. They might try to log into banking sites or major online stores using the same username and password combination which can be protected with a strong unique password for every single online account you have. When setting up online banking, if your bank asks you to provide answers to some standard security questions remember that the answer you provide doesn’t have to be the real one.
Avoid clicking through emails. Never respond to unsolicited requests for info. Your bank or financial institution may send you email alerts and updates, but you don’t have to click through the links to access your account. It’s usually much safer to log into the website manually to ensure you are entering a secure site. Spam calls and emails typically increase in the aftermath of a big breach, indicating that at least some of your info has been released. Phishing emails redirect the recipient to a malicious website or fraudulent version of the bank’s website and some are designed to collect your username, password and other personal information. Never respond to emails that ask to verify your identity by providing your username or password. Also, be aware of unsolicited phone calls that claim to be from your bank. Remember, while your financial institution may require you to answer a security question, they should never ask for passwords or PIN.
Access your accounts from a secure location. Avoid using unsecured wireless access points to jump online and log into your online accounts. It is always best practice to connect to your bank using computers and networks you know and trust. But if you need to access your bank online from remote locations you might want to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) so that you can establish an encrypted connection to your home or work network and access your bank from there. Unsecured wireless access points, such as those found at airports, coffee shops and hotels are easy to intercept and someone could easily collect information you’re using to log in.
Keep your devices updated: Whether you are using a laptop or desktop computer to access internet, make sure you are downloading appropriate updates and keeping their security up-to-date as well. You also need to update the antivirus, firewall and security software on your computer on regular basis which can actually protect against all kinds of malicious software. Remember, your devices may be more vulnerable to attack unless you continually update it and trojan horse viruses (valid programs but behind the scenes they steal your private information) only work on outdated systems. An effective antivirus protects against these and many other kinds of malware.
Never share your bank or personal information: As we have discussed earlier, your bank will never ask for your confidential information via phone or email. So whether you get an apparent phone call from the bank or an email requesting your details, do not give out your login information. Use your login ID and password only on the official login page of the bank, which should be a secure website. Look for ‘https://’ in the URL when logging in; it means that the website is secure. Hackers and identity thieves can use sophisticated tricks to get you to reveal personal information. They can create fake websites that look like your bank, emails that appear legitimate and phone calls that will try to scare you. Your bank will never send you a request asking for your personal or banking information. Contact your bank directly using the contact information you already have if you receive any type of request.
Type your internet banking URL: It is safer to tape your bank URL in the address bar of the browser than clicking on links given in an email. There are instances of fraudsters sending emails with fraudulent website links that are designed exactly like the bank’s original website. Once you enter your login details on such a website, they may be used to access your account and steal your money. While logging on, check for ‘https://’ in the URL and ensure that it is your bank’s authentic website.
We can protect our info from falling into the wrong hands by addressing mentioned security tips. If you suspect information related to your bank account has been compromised, contact your bank immediately for assistance addressing the issue.
The writer is a certified finance specialist