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.
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.
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.
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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