Safety Tips for People Who Bank Online
When it comes to modern inventions that make life easier, it’s hard to beat online banking.
Gone are the days when you had to spend a good hour or so each month writing and mailing checks to pay your bills, waiting for credit card statements to arrive in the mail to see your current balance, and having to contact the bank to transfer money between accounts. Now, you can do all of this and more with a few clicks on your computer or smartphone.
Of course, there is a potential dark cloud that can hover over the convenience of online banking. People who are not careful with where and how they bank online may find that their personal and financial data is compromised.
Fortunately, by following some security tips and safe ways to send money online, you can continue to enjoy the ease of online banking without any issues.
Always Use Your Own Computer
If you are tempted to check your bank balance while at work, resist the urge. If you use any type of public computer, there is no way to know if it’s malware and spyware free. By being vigilant about using your home computer, you can also control your device’s security and be sure any anti-virus programs are up to date. For instance, when you get a notification that it’s time to update your computer’s software and malware program, do this as soon as possible.
Use Mega-Strong Passwords
You may already know that saving your login info on your smartphone or computer is not a wise idea. At the same time, to make it as easy as possible to access your bank accounts online, you may have selected a really basic and short password. To prevent hackers from gaining access to your accounts, The Ascent recommends that you skip your dog’s name and your birth date for a password and instead use a strong combo of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols — and change it every few months. You can spring for a password generating program if you’d like, and be sure to use a different, hard-to-guess password for each of your accounts.
Monitor Your Accounts Closely
To be sure your hard-earned money is not being stolen, it is crucial that you check your accounts on a regular basis — every day if you can. Look for odd charges you are certain you did not make and contact your bank or credit card company immediately if anything is amiss. Because it is virtually impossible to monitor everything 24/7, you might also want to consider enrolling in an identity theft protection program like the ones available at LifeLock. This way, your online information and all of your personal data will be constantly protected, and if something is suspicious you will be notified immediately.
Opt for Two-Factor Authentication
If your bank and credit card companies offer two-factor authentication, use it. This usually involves entering in a code that your bank will text or e-mail to you prior to being able to log in. You will then have to enter the code in addition to your strong password to gain access to your accounts. While it may seem like a time-consuming extra step, it is much quicker than having to contend with someone who has stolen your account number and is buying things with your money.
Be Vigilant and Enjoy the Convenience
Once you spend two minutes paying your bills online instead of writing seven or eight checks, it will probably be hard to give up the convenience of online banking. Thankfully, by being extremely vigilant in where and how you conduct your banking business on your computer, you can continue to enjoy this wonderful option.