Online banking is a modern-day service that provides convenience if you often find yourself on the go. When banking online, you never have to worry about waiting in line or making it into a branch before the close of business. You can simply pay bills and move money around using your home computer, smartphone or other compatible device. This convenience can turn into a major hassle, however, if you don’t properly safeguard your online banking profile.
Power up your password
The strength of your account passwords, determined by the number and uniqueness of characters, can make all the difference when it comes to an identity thief or hacker accessing your information. Although using memorable dates like your birthday or home address make it easier to recall, those numbers will also be easy for even strangers to figure out. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recommends using a password with numbers, lower- and upper-case letters and special symbols like exclamation and question marks. One method for doing this would be to create a password phrase that is unique and easy for you to remember.
It’s also crucial to create different passwords for each account and app you use. If an email account or online shopping login is compromised, and it shares the same password as your banking, identity thieves will be able to access that information. The FDIC also advises regularly changing passwords — usually about every 90 days or so — and never staying logged in to your online banking after you have completed your transactions.
Bank with a trustworthy institution
You should have complete trust in the financial institution you work with, and part of that trust is built by choosing an institution that invests in industry-sanctioned security protocols and policies. NerdWallet writer Margarette Burnette suggests looking for a financial institution that requires multifactor authentication when logging into your online banking profile.
Instead of logging in with just traditional username and password, multifactor authentication will prompt you to provide one more piece of identifying information before granting access to your profile. This better protects your account against hackers, and if your financial institution notifies you when someone attempts to access your account unsuccessfully, you will be in a position to notify your bank and change your password to keep yourself safe.
Dedicate a server
You probably use your smartphone, laptop or tablet for more than just banking. You have social media accounts to update, email to check and games and streaming media to enjoy. All this online activity opens you up to potential malware that can creep into your sensitive financial accounts. Instead of using one device to do it all, the FDIC recommends keeping other tasks separate from banking by dedicating a computer or device to handling online shopping and banking.
With a million things to get done in a day, you might be tempted to handle a bill or check your accounts while you’re out and about, but Burnette warns against using public Wi-Fi for any sensitive transactions. Instead, wait until you are on your private home network or ensure that you are using your mobile device’s dedicated network.
Using an app or banking online through your browser is a great convenience, but the potential consequences should be understood and respected. By taking preemptive steps to secure your information, you can access your money in peace and confidence on the go.