Online Banking Security
Whether you’re checking your bank accounts, transferring funds, or making a payment, online banking is a convenient way to manage your basic transactions. More banks and credit unions are offering online banking options as a convenience to customers, and now it’s easier than ever to keep track of your finances. However, online banking is not without its risks, so you’ll need to be cautious when storing usernames and passwords on your computer, and make sure you’re really logging in to your financial institution’s encrypted site.
Here are some tips for safe online banking:
Mobile Banking SecurityMany consumers use mobile devices for financial services to save time when accessing accounts, help track spending, and manage money. Using mobile devices is a lot like using a computer, and you should use similar best practices for security – especially since your mobile device can get lost or stolen.
- Monitor your accounts regularly. Check your accounts regularly to make sure all transactions posted are ones you authorized. Report any fraudulent or suspicious activity to your bank. Get into the habit of monitoring your accounts every few days and always after you’ve done any type of online shopping. You will want to make sure your account was charged appropriately and that your account number isn’t being used for other purchases you didn’t make.
- Avoid clicking through emails. 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 in to the website manually to ensure you are entering a secure site. 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. Don’t be afraid to call your bank to verify whether they sent you an email or if they need to get in touch with you. Never respond to emails that ask to verify your identity by providing your username or password. Banks will never ask for this information via email—at most, you will need to supply the answer to a security question and will do this over the phone with a personal banker.
- Change your passwords regularly. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites and make sure you are choosing a strong password that is a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using any words or phrases that contain your name, initials, or your birthdate. Also get into the habit of changing them every couple of months. Some banks have an extra security step in place, where you will need to verify your identity by identifying a pre-selected image or answering a security question. This extra layer of security can make the online banking process that much safer.
- Access your accounts from a secure location. Avoid using unsecured wireless access points to jump online and log in to your online accounts. You should access these accounts when you’re certain you have a secure connection. Unsecured wireless access points, such as those found at airports, coffee shops, and hotels, are easy to intercept and someone could easily collect the information you’re using to log in.
- Protect your computer. Make sure you’re running anti-virus protection software and the firewall is turned on so you aren’t vulnerable to any type of virus that might be downloaded and installed from a malicious site. Take the time to review different programs and pay a little extra for a higher-quality one that will provide you with protection when you are banking online, shopping online, or just opening emails.
- Check for encryption. You’ll want to check if you’re really logging in to your bank’s site by looking for a small lock icon somewhere on your browser. The URL should also begin with “https.” Both the icon and the URL indicate you are accessing your account over an encrypted connection.
- Keep your system up-to-date. Whether you’re using a laptop or desktop computer to access the Internet, make sure you’re downloading appropriate updates and keeping your system up-to-date. Run anti-virus scans regularly and authorize system updates as needed. Some of the leading Trojan horse viruses only work on outdated systems, so your computer may be more vulnerable to an attack unless you continually update it. You can also run scans on a schedule to double-check for bugs.
- Notify the bank immediately of any suspicious activity or concerns. Also, make sure the bank has current contact information for you so we can get in touch with you with any questions or other matters that require your attention.
Here are some tips for using your mobile device more safely and securely:
- Set up alerts and check your balances. You can set up alerts by text message, email, or even app notifications. Alerts can tell you when your checking account balance is low, when your balance exceeds a limit you set, and when when a charge over a specified amount is placed on your card.
- Protect your personal information. Don’t share your PIN or password with anyone, and don’t save them on your mobile device. Think twice about accessing your accounts on a phone or device that you share with another person.
- Use passwords. Password protecting your mobile device can help prevent access to your information in the device. Don’t use easily identifiable passwords like your birthday and never save passwords on your phone.
- Report loss or theft to all your financial institutions or financial services providers as soon as it occurs. If you lose your mobile device, you may be focused on notifying the mobile provider – but don’t forget to report loss or theft to your financial providers if your device can provide access to your accounts through apps.
- Use secure websites or apps: This sounds obvious, but don’t login to your accounts through links that are sent to you be an email address or on a website or app that you don’t recognize. When using free or public wi-fi, try to use a private network and go to a secure site that begins with HTTPS.
- Remove sensitive information from your old phone or device. If you get a new phone or mobile device, be sure to delete your data and information from the old phone. You may have left names of banks or credit unions, passwords, or other clues that could help identify your personal information.
This document is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice. The guidance included is not an exhaustive list of actions and security threats change constantly.
Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Visit www.consumerfinance.gov for more information.