If you take precautions, you can feel secure while conducting financial transactions on the Internet.
Online banking is a great convenience. It allows us to conduct many financial transactions without making a trip to a bank. It gives us the opportunity to track our expenses and to know exactly how much money we have to spend at any moment.
However, banking online places us at risk of giving an unscrupulous person unauthorized access to our accounts. Taking the following precautions will reduce your risk of loss as you bank online.
Use a Good Password
If your bank allows you to use a secure password, create a lengthy one with special characters so hackers cannot easily figure out how to gain access to your account. If your bank’s online system does not accept special characters, think of a long, uncommon phrase and create a password by using a combination of numbers and uppercase and lowercase characters.
Do not use a password that is a variation of your name, Social Security number or birthdate. Also, change your password regularly to further reduce the chance of someone accessing your account without your permission.
Check Your Account Balance Daily
Because of the convenience of bank debit cards, many of us conduct dozens of bank transactions each month. It is easy to spot any irregularities in your account if you check your balance regularly.
If you see a transaction that you did not initiate, contact your bank immediately. It is important to act quickly if you see any unauthorized charges to your account. If someone stole your debit card or check book, report the theft to both your bank and the local police.
Be Careful Where You Access Your Account
It is best to conduct your online banking in the privacy of your home, where no unwanted eyes are watching your monitor or keystrokes. You can also feel secure as you access your bank on the Internet by installing anti-spyware and firewall programs on your personal computer.
If you must access your bank’s website in a public place, try and establish as much privacy as possible. Be aware that public Internet connections are usually not secure. Make sure to close your browser after accessing your bank account online.
Pay With Your Credit Card
When using your bank debit card buying online or in a retail store, you are usually given the option to charge the purchase as a debit or as a credit. You should pay with the credit card option as often as possible, for several reasons. Credit cards offer better protection against personal liability claims than debit cards. You may be liable for a greater amount if someone uses your debit card without your permission, depending on how soon you report the unauthorized transaction.
Depending on your bank, using the credit option on your bank debit card may give you points in a rewards program. Check to see how your bank rewards purchases and decide whether to pay for most of your retail transactions as debits or by using the credit option.
Make Sure Communications From Your Bank Are Legitimate
Phishing schemes are fraudulent attempts by scammers to gain access to your personal information so they can use it to gain access to your bank accounts. You may receive an email that appears to be from your bank, but it may have been sent by a scammer.
One hint that the email is part of a phishing scheme is if the email asks you to provide your account number or password information. A legitimate financial institution would never send an email asking you for sensitive information.
Scammers also use phone calls to attempt to gather your account numbers and personal identifying information. Never tell anyone you don’t know or trust your Social Security number, bank account numbers or passwords.