Being able to bank at all hours of the day and night without having to get rugged up against the cold and stand in a queue is the future of banking today. The speed and convenience of internet banking has made it increasingly popular as more people begin to have faith in the system. However, the internet can be a dangerous place and online banking attracts more than its fair share of scammers. Those new to internet baking and perhaps the older generations who haven’t grown up with the world wide web and therefore unaware of the pitfalls and scams that can so easily fool the less technologically savvy should take special care when they open a bank account online. Here are some simple steps can you take to help improve your security while banking online.
Tips to ensure security while banking online:
1. Make Sure Your Computer Is Safe: Never use a public computer to do your online banking transactions. Internet cafes and other venues which provide public access to computers are wonderful if you want to read the latest news, check your email or catch the closing stock prices, but they should never be used for personal banking. Any computer you use for internet banking needs to be secure and that means it should be entirely under your control and loaded with up-to-date firewall, virus checking and anti-spyware programmes. You should also make a habit of logging out of your online banking account as soon as you have finished using it and of then clearing your browser history.
2. Safeguard Your Personal Details: If you have accounts with different banks you should have a separate password for each account and every password should be used to access just a single account and nothing else. Passwords should be chosen carefully and need to contain a mixture of both letters and numbers. Most importantly, your passwords should have no obvious connection to you. For example, do not include your own, your partner’s or a pet’s name or numbers which make up the birthday of a family member. Your passwords need to be totally random and should be changed frequently.
Must Read: Tips to creating strong passwords
3. Be Very Careful When Using Email: One of the favoured tools for scammers is email and they have become expert at sending email which looks as if it has come directly from your bank (also called phishing emails). Banks and financial institutions will send you legitimate email messages from time to time but the one thing they will never do is to ask you to click on a link within the body of the message or to reply to the email giving them personal details. Access to your account should only ever be made by bringing up the bank or financial institution’s web site in your browser and logging in with your personal username and password. Another thing to look out for is the URL. Make sure the web address in the URL bar matches the site you are visiting. Fake sites are set up to look like your bank’s website, but often the URL will give away their true identity as a fraudulent site.
4. Make Sure That Your Transactions Are Secure: The majority of banks and financial institutions now offer additional security checks for online transactions such as requiring you to enter a security code sent to your telephone as an SMS message, or issuing security tokens for transactions which will generate unique number codes for each transaction. You should always make use of these extra security measures offered by your bank.
When it comes to sending email messages yourself you should never include personal information, including credit card and online bank account details. If you need to pass this information to another person then it is far safer to do so by telephone. Make sure however, that you obtain the number from a trusted source, dial it yourself and know who you are talking to.
5. Know Your Enemy: Perhaps the most important tool available for improving your online banking security is a knowledge of just how the scammers operate. One of the best places to go for information is SCAMwatch which can be found at www.scamwatch.gov.au Although this is a site run by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission the excellent and very detailed information given here applies across the Internet and could save you from being duped.
This is a guest post by William Masters. This article was written in association with financial service provider and online banking expert eccount money. For news and updates on products and services you can follow @eccountmoney on Twitter.
Reporting from London, William Masters is finance journalist for topics of international economics and personal finance.