With all the talk about hacking and identity theft, it’s hard to know what steps you can take to protect yourself while banking online. With the right precautions, though, you can feel confident that your money will stay safe in your bank account and never be stolen by hackers or identity thieves. Here are some helpful tips to keep you protected while you bank online.
Why Online Banks Are Safer
Before we get into why online banks are safer, it’s important to define what exactly we mean by online banking. Online banking is any kind of financial activity that occurs in a virtual environment. This includes:
- Buying goods and services using PayPal
- Transferring money to friends or family members via the Chime mobile app
- Requesting electronic payments from customers or clients with Square Cash and more
Essentially, online banking is simply using technology to connect you with your bank account through an app, website or other method.
Always Use Strong Passwords
Don’t rely on easy-to-guess passwords when you are using your bank’s online services. These tips will help you create a strong password that is difficult to hack. Key points: Ensure your password is at least eight characters long; use numbers, upper and lower case letters and special characters such as ! or @ in your password; change your passwords every 90 days or so. Also consider whether it makes sense to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) when you are logging into an account. 2FA adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring something only you would have access to—an access code sent to a mobile device or received via SMS text message—before permitting login.
Only Bank on Secure Sites
If you do choose to bank online, it’s important to make sure that you only use sites that are secure. The golden rule is to never send your credentials, including usernames and passwords, through email. And although digital certificates like SSL encryption help protect data as it travels from your computer to a web server, they aren’t foolproof by any means. Online banking services offer multiple layers of security (read: multi-factor authentication) that can help prevent hackers from accessing your accounts and stealing money or other personal information; always opt in when using these types of tools so that you don’t have to rely on just one security measure.
Don’t Keep Too Much Money in Your Account
When it comes to safety, never keeping too much money in your account is a great rule of thumb. Only keep as much money in your bank account as you’re willing to lose. That way, if someone does get access to your information and transfers funds out of your account, you’ll be covered. This also means setting up savings accounts with different banks—so you can have some liquid cash on hand in case an emergency comes up. Keep an eye on your balances, so that way you don’t get caught off guard if someone makes a withdrawal from an online bank account where you keep only a small amount of money.
Investigate Every Email From Your Bank
Just because an email comes from your bank doesn’t mean it’s safe. Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated, and you might not know you’ve been taken until it’s too late. When possible, click through to your online banking site directly—your bank never asks for information or confirmation in an email. If that’s not possible, search online for any recent news about security concerns with your bank’s website. And if anything about that email seems fishy at all—if there are misspellings or weird symbols in place of letters—don’t open it! Call your bank directly instead to be sure nothing is wrong.
Report Suspicious Activity Immediately
If you see anything suspicious while you’re doing your online banking, notify your bank immediately. It is much easier to catch fraudulent activity before it occurs than after. Banks have measures in place to protect against fraud, but these systems don’t work all of the time. As a customer, you can help them by acting quickly when something looks fishy. In many cases, your quick response will allow banks to prevent fraudulent transactions or at least minimize their damage.
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