Online Banking Security Advice

Written by , September 21, 2011

Online Banking Security AdviceOnline banking is one of those modern conveniences that many of us can’t imagine living without. It just makes our lives so much easier. Things that once required a trip to the bank, or at least a phone call, can now be done with a few clicks of a mouse.

But all that convenience does come with some drawbacks. The popularity of online banking has opened new doors for criminals, making identity theft and bank fraud easier to commit. The banks are responsible for making their websites as secure as possible, but it’s up to account holders to use good judgment to reduce their chances of becoming victims.

Here’s some advice about how to stay safe when banking online.

  • Find out what your bank is doing to protect you. They should at the very least be using SSL technology to encrypt your information. You can tell if your bank does this by looking for “https://” at the beginning of the web address when you visit your online banking site. Other security measures may include security questions and account locking after a certain number of unsuccessful login attempts. If you don’t feel that your bank is doing enough to keep you safe, you might want to avoid banking online with them or find another bank that offers better security.
  • Choose a strong password. The best passwords are at least eight characters long, contain capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and are not based on a dictionary word or easily obtainable personal information. Some banks require customers to change their passwords every two or three months. Even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to do it anyway. And don’t hesitate to change your password if you suspect that it may have been compromised.
  • Keep your computer secure. Install a good firewall and antivirus program, and run scans regularly. It’s also a good idea to install a separate program that scans for spyware and adware, because many antivirus programs fail to detect those.
  • Avoid logging on to your online banking from a public computer. You have no way of knowing whether or not they are secure, and if you forget to log out or close the browser window when you’re done, the next user could access your information.
  • Check your account activity at least once a week. If you find something suspicious, report it to your bank immediately. By catching problems early, you can prevent them from becoming bigger problems.
  • Doing your banking online can save you time and money, but it also puts you at an increased risk of having your information stolen and misused. These simple precautions will allow you to enjoy all the benefits that online banking while minimizing your chances of falling victim to a cybercriminal.

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