As use of the Internet continues to expand exponentially, banks and other financial institutions have increased their use of the Internet to deliver products and enhanced financial services, or simply to improve communications with consumers.
The Internet, despite its fundamental flaws, does offer the potential for safe, convenient, and new ways to shop for financial services and conduct banking business, any day, any time.
While it’s true that the Internet has the “potential” for safe and secure financial transactions, safe banking online relies on you making good choices and decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises, or even carefully crafted scams and phishing schemes.
Despite all the hype concerning inpenetrateable system security, we have learned, much to our detriment, that no such inpenetrateable systems exist. The inescapable fact remains; you are your own best protection while conducting financial transactions on the Internet. So it’s important that you learn about, and take advantage of, security features offered by your financial institution.
Some examples are:
Encryption is the process of scrambling private information to prevent unauthorized access. To remind you that your transmission is encrypted, most Internet browsers display a small icon on your screen that looks like a lock or a key, when you conduct secure transactions online. Avoid sending sensitive information, such as account numbers, through unsecured e-mail.
Passwords, or personal identification numbers, should be used when accessing an account online. Your password should be unique to you, and this is extremely important, you should change it regularly. Do not use birthdates or other numbers or words that may be easy for others to guess.
Always carefully control to whom you give your password. For example, if you use a financial company that requires your passwords in order to gather your financial data from various sources, make sure that you are aware of the company’s privacy and security practices.
General security over your personal computer such as virus protection and physical access controls should be used and updated regularly. Contact your hardware and software suppliers, or Internet service provider, to ensure you have the latest in security updates.
Tips on safe computing practices when conducting your online banking at home, or at a public computer:
Never leave your computer unattended once you have signed in to online banking.
After completing your transactions, ensure that you sign out of online banking, clear your cache, and close your browser. Often, it is easy to forget to sign out of an online banking session
Keep your password and card number safe. This seems like a no brainer, but surprisingly many users do forget this critical step in the process.
Do not share, disclose, or provide your bank card number, or password, to another party or website other than your bank. Most banks will not send you an email requesting this information. If your bank practices this very unsafe routine; you should change banks.
Do not save your bank card number or password on a publicly accessed computer.
If you do use a public access computer such as at an Internet café or public library, to be safe change your password after completing your session by calling your bank’s telephone banking number.
When selecting a password, choose a series of characters that cannot be easily guessed by anyone else. The best passwords are made up of an alpha-numeric combination that’s more than four characters long and a combination of capital and lower case letters.
This is an example of an Online Banking email phishing attempt.
A password you use for any other service.
Your name or a close relative’s name.
Your birth date, telephone number or address, or those of a close relative.
Your bank account number or bank card number.
Do not share your personal verification question answers with anyone, and do not disclose them in any emails. It’s simple; giving your password answers to another person, or company, places your finances and privacy at risk.