How to Stay Secure When Banking Online
Banking online offers great advantages including convenience, speed and the ability for a customer to check their account balance at any time. And most banks have exceptional computer security because they deal with sensitive financial information.
But no security will protect you from yourself.
If you aren’t secure when you log into your account, you open yourself up to hackers and identity thieves who can drain your accounts and wreak havoc on your personal and financial life. To protect yourself, follow these secure guidelines when banking online:
Have a Strong Password
Everyone knows that a password should include both letters and numbers, but you should do even more with your online bank account. To make your password strong, do the following:
- Always include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (if allowed)
- Never include an actual word or numbers that are connected to you (such as your birthday)
- Use upper- and lower-case letters
- Make the password as long as the system allows
- Create a unique password for every financial site (and don’t ever keep that password in a file on the computer)
Always Use Your Own Computer
If you want to be secure, you have to be careful. If you use a public — or friend’s — computer, you can’t be certain there isn’t malware hidden inside, tracking everything you do. You decrease that risk if you only use your home computer.
Also, every time you log out, be sure to close the browser and delete the cache completely. Doing so erases any data left in temporary files.
Double-Check the Site
It’s very easy to create a fake version of a real financial site. Therefore, you should always make certain that you enter your bank’s actual website address into your browser and go there directly. Never use a link from an email — it could be a trap.
Many sites now have you choose specific ID tags that appear each time you visit the site to prove it is the legitimate one. If your bank has ID tags, pay attention to them before you log into its site. If you see the wrong tags, stop immediately; the site is dangerous.
Use the HTTPS Version
Many websites now have an even more secure version of their site that you can reach by entering “https” at the front of the address, instead of “http”. The extra security comes from encrypting all data to and from the site. Some financial institutions load that version automatically. If yours doesn’t do this, it’s worth your time to check and see if “https” works.
Use Smart-Phone Apps Carefully
Apps have become the newest, most convenient way to do banking online. But most people don’t realize that a phone or tablet still sends information through the air. If any piece of the wireless path from phone to bank is not secure, then your data may be readable. A coffee shop’s open Wi-Fi is not secure; your information could be captured by someone behind you drinking an iced mocha.
Never give hackers a chance to get your information when banking online. Protect your password, your computer and your information to remain safe.