Online Banking Do’s and Don’ts

banking2 While it’s true that the Internet, despite its fundamental design flaws, 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 positive hype surrounding financial institutions’ system security, we have learned, much to our detriment, that there are no absolutes in computer system security.

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, the active security features offered by your financial institution.

Online banking 1

Examples of security features offered by financial institution:

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 resembles a lock, or a key, when you conduct secure transactions online. Look for this symbol so that you have reason to believe your connection is, in fact, secure.

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 password 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.

Online banking 2

Tips on safe computing practices when conducting your online banking at home, or at a public computer:

Never leave your computer, even at home, unattended, once you have signed in to online banking.

After completing your transactions, ensure that you sign out, 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, (absolutely NOT recommended), 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 someone else. The best passwords are made up of an alpha-numeric combination that are more than eight characters long, and a combination of capital and lower case letters.

Bank of America email scam

This is an example of an Online Banking email phishing attempt.

Final words – don’t use:

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.

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20 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Interconnectivity, Online Banking, Online Safety, Windows Tips and Tools

20 responses to “Online Banking Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Online banking led me into a lot of trouble once. But it wasn’t bad, and it got all cleared up, It was just a careless mistake on my part. ha.

  2. For sites like banking that have those secret question/answer prompts for a computer that hasn’t accessed an online account before here’s what I do. I have a password saving app that encrypts it’s database, as all good ones should, it also has a pasword generator. When I need to set up secret questions I select the question, then instead of the actual answer, I generate a password using the password app, so say the security question is mothers maiden name, the answer, rather than being my mothers maiden name, would be something like 09hBX87H76rg554, and I keep these answers stored in the password app. Just another layer in the fight to keep my accounts safe, and it prevents me from lapsing and accessing my account from a computer that may be infected, because there’s no way I can remember those secret question answers.

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Dave,

      A great tip from a professional technician! All readers should take note of this tip.

      Thanks.

  3. I really like the security provisions that BOA has has on its website. Before you provide your credentials, BOA proves to you that you are on legitimate website. That should become industry standard.

  4. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    When banking online, I only use a browser which is fully patched and safe, (in my case, Firefox). Keyscrambler is installed too, as an extra layer of encryption.

    Excellent advice from Dave Brooks, advice which I have been following for a while.

    Cheers

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Mal,

      Yeah, KeyScrambler is a terrific free application – I couldn’t do without it.

      You know, it just occurred to me for the first time (given the time difference) – it’s actually Saturday morning where you are. Have a great Saturday!!

      Bill

  5. Liam O' Moulain

    Bill,

    Thanks for your article. This is one area that I’m maybe not as careful as I should be. I never considered the public computer thing – I should have!

    Liam

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Liam,

      The public computer thing, as you put it, is a major risk and you’re not alone – many people forget about the risks associated with a public computer, or an open Wi-Fi connection.

      Bill

  6. Mal

    Hey Bill,

    Yep, I am actually talking to you yesterday LOL. It’s sorta like Back to the Future, Terminator like stuff if you think about it long enough.

    You have a great Friday.

    Cheers

  7. Bill,

    What an excellent, excellent article… So many people “take for granted” their online transactions and do not follow the steps you have provided (until it is too late).

    Rick

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Rick,

      Despite the best security technology available, in the end, educations and personal responsibility is the only sure solution.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Bill

  8. Hi Bill,

    BM> ” 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 resembles a lock, or a key, when you conduct secure transactions online. Look for this symbol so that you have reason to believe your connection is, in fact, secure.” “you are your own best protection while conducting financial transactions on the Internet” and “there are no absolutes in computer system security” ….. <

    ….. and you can put THAT in the bank! 🙂

    rod

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Rod,

      It’s all about the user taking personal responsibility. As Bruce Schneier says, If you think technology can solve your security problems, then you dont understand the problems, and you dont understand the technology

      Thanks for visiting.

      Bill

  9. Hi Bill,

    I just typed a squillion words and everything but the last line vanished. I hope you can retrieve the rest of it from your blog backend.

  10. brian

    Another technique that I use for secure computing is to boot from a Linux live CD (Linux Mint is a good one).

    This has a two fold effect:
    1) Most malware and viruses can not be installed or run on Linux
    2) the CD is read only so any nasty that gets through Linux’s defences disappears when you shut down

    • Bill Mullins

      Hi Brian,

      Great suggestion. Interesting, I just downloaded Mint last week – haven’t burned it yet but from what I hear it’s pretty terrific.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Bill