Online bank accounts offer tremendous advantages, from saving gas to saving time. Still without a few basic precautions, those advantages can come at a high cost. For the same reasons online bank accounts are ultra-accessible to consumers, they’re also accessible to individuals that can steal your money and your personal information. Here are four tips for protecting your online bank account:
1. Do your online banking from a secure device.
Outfit your home computer with good anti-virus software and be sure to run updates and appropriate scans prior to logging into your online account. Never use a public wi-fi system to access your bank account from a laptop, tablet or phone. Once you’ve finished your online transaction, log out immediately—leaving the page open leaves your account open to cyber thieves.
2. Set a strong password and change it regularly.
A strong password usually has at least 12 characters and includes upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols. Don’t use personal information in your password (or your pin number). Never use 12345, qwerty or password as these almost always top the list of the most commonly used passwords.
3. Bank only on secure, encrypted sites.
Whether you’re monitoring your account activity, paying a credit card bill or transferring funds, be sure to check your browser for the letters “https” and a lock icon. On secure sites, this information is often high-lighted in a different color than a traditional “http” URL.
4. Use caution when opening emails from your bank.
Some cyber thieves are sophisticated enough to set up dummy web pages that bear a striking resemblance to the real thing. Don’t respond to emails requesting personal information and avoid opening attachments even if the email appears to be from your bank. It’s always safer to go directly to your bank’s secure site and get the information you need. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from your bank, let your financial institution know immediately.
The First works diligently to create secure and convenient online banking services for our customers. We’re also there for you if your account is ever compromised. By taking a few simple precautions, you can help us keep your account safe.
How do you keep your online bank account secure? Tell us in the Comments section.