Online banking is a convenient way to manage your money from the comfort of home. It also allows you to pay your bills on the go or e-transfer funds with the click of a button. Although financial institutions have security measures in place, there is always the risk of fraud when you’re managing money online. Here are some tips to help protect your bank account from fraud when using online banking.
Create a Strong Password
Creating a strong password is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your financial information when banking online. Avoid using easily guessed words or personal information in your password.
Use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Create strong, unique passwords and don’t share them with anyone, even friends or family members you trust.
Use a password manager if you have difficulty keeping track of your various passwords, such as LastPass. A password manager can help you create and manage strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts.
Don’t Click on Links in Emails
Many phishing scams attempt to trick you into clicking on a link that will take you to a fake website. The fake website may look identical to your bank’s login page but is designed to steal your login information.
If you receive an email that appears to be from your financial institution, do not click on any links. Instead, go directly to your bank’s website and log in from there.
Hackers often send phishing emails that contain links to malicious websites. If you click on one of these links, you may end up downloading malware onto your computer or disclosing sensitive information to the hacker.
Monitor Your Account Activity
Monitor your account activity regularly. Keeping track of what you’re spending and what’s appearing in your posted and pending transactions allows you to identify any suspicious activity immediately.
Contact your bank if you see charges that you didn’t incur. In many cases, your bank may detect fraudulent activity before you can, and you may receive a phone call from them asking you to confirm whether the charge in question was made by you or someone else.
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) every 12 months. Take advantage of this opportunity to review any inaccuracies in your credit history that could indicate compromised account information or identity theft.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is a security feature that requires more than just your username and password to log in to your account. This process adds an extra layer of security to your account by verifying the login using your phone number or email address.
Typically, multi-factor authentication requires you to provide a one-time code sent to your mobile device via text message or email following a login attempt. Only once you enter the correct password and the verification code can you enter the account. This makes it harder for someone to hack into your online banking account.
Avoid Banking on Public Wi-Fi
Completing your banking on public Wi-Fi is risky because anyone else on that network can potentially steal your personal information, including your password or account number.
Use a VPN (a virtual private network) to prevent someone from viewing your online activity on a public network.
Don’t Keep Your Accounts Logged in on Your Computer
After completing your online banking, always log out of the account, even if you’re working on your personal computer. Logging out prevents anyone from quickly accessing your information if they happen to steal or hack into your computer.
Don’t Access Your Bank Account on a Shared Device
If you are using a shared computer, like at a library or educational institution, avoid online banking. If you must, always log out of your account as soon as your transaction is finished.
You may want to clear the history of the operating system for the period when you used the computer and delete any saved passwords to ensure someone else can’t log in to your account after you leave.
Beware of Skimmers
Skimmers are devices that thieves use to steal credit card information. Check for skimmers before using an ATM or paying at a gas station. Signs of skimmers can include:
- Tape over any part of the machine or credit card slot
- Anything hanging from the ATM
- A loose credit card slot that is a different color than the rest of the ATM
If you see anything that looks suspicious, do not use the machine. Inform the facility manager that you suspect a skimmer may be on the ATM.
Buy Only From Secure Websites
When shopping online, make purchases from secure websites. You can tell if a website is secure if it starts with “HTTPS” rather than “HTTP” and has a lock icon next to the address. Inputting payment information on an unsecured website means these details aren’t protected and may be stolen.
Use a Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card
Credit cards have more protection against fraud than debit cards. If your credit card is compromised, you can report it to the company that issued the card.
They will cancel the card and send you a new one. If your account is compromised with a debit card, someone could drain your entire bank account.
Report a Lost Credit or Debit Card Immediately
If you lose your debit or credit card, report it to your bank immediately. This helps prevent someone from using your card to make unauthorized charges. Check your online banking statements to see if there was already fraudulent activity before you noticed the card was missing. If so, notify your financial institution so they can fix these charges.
Get Creative With Security Questions
Your bank will likely have security questions that you need to answer to log in to your account. While these questions can be a helpful way to prove your identity, they can also be easy for someone else to guess if they know you.
For better security, choose questions that aren’t obvious and don’t have a factual answer. For example, your mother’s maiden name or the street you grew up on are indisputable facts that someone who knows you or views your online profiles may be able to discern.
If you use a subjective security question like your first childhood crush or favorite public school teacher, fewer people can guess the answer, leaving your account with better protection.
Install Ad Blockers and Anti-Malware Software
Another way to protect your online bank account from fraud is to install ad blockers and anti-malware software. Ad blockers can help prevent malicious ads from appearing on your screen. Anti-malware software can detect and remove malware that may already be present on your device.
By installing these types of software, you help to protect your device and your online bank account from being compromised.
Stay Safe Online
Online banking is a convenient option for managing your finances when you know how to be responsible and safe online.
You can keep your financial and personal information secure by following these tips. To learn more about banking, loans, or improving your credit and access resources from Finance is us. We offer helpful guidance and information so you can make the best financial decisions for your situation.
Disclaimer: All content on this site is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular entity or individual, nor is the information a substitute for professional financial advice and services.