11 Tips to Keep Your Online Banking Secure

Gone are the days when you had to drive to the bank to do a single transaction. Research has shown that more than half of the adults in the U.S. bank online, while about a third bank using cell phones. You can do almost all transactions through the convenience of your phone or your desktop.

Despite being convenient, online banking comes with some risks. Your bank account data or identity can be compromised if you are not alert. When transacting online, you need to be aware of the decisions that you make, because some of them can put you at higher risk. Here are some online banking tips to help keep your money and identity secure when conducting transactions.

1. Change Your Password Regularly

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to change your password at least every 90 days. Ensure that your password is a combination of lowercase letters, upper case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid words that other people can easily guess, such as your pet’s name or your family member’s name.

When setting up online banking, it is common for your bank to request you to answer a few security questions. You do not have to give the real answers to these questions. You can provide solutions that only you can remember.

Changing passwords may seem irritating because you can easily forget them. However, this simple act can help protect your account and identity from hackers.

2. Avoid Email Links

Never be too quick to click on any URL in an email. Even if the URL looks legitimate, it could take you to a place that you did not want to go. The safest thing to do is to personally enter your bank’s URL when you need to access your bank’s website.

Additionally, avoid opening any suspicious emails. Some emails may try to trick you into disclosing your banking information. Keep in mind that your bank won’t ask for your data through a text or email. If you receive any suspicious email or text asking you to disclose your personal information, you should act fast and report it to your bank.

3. Don’t Use Public WiFi

Public WiFi doesn’t offer the security you need to conduct online banking transaction. When using it, always have an assumption that anyone can access your browsing history and your passwords. You are putting yourself at higher risk any time you bank online using public WiFi. If you absolutely must do online banking while in a public space, consider using your private cellular network for internet access.

4. Check Your Bank Statement Regularly

Banks have controls in place to recognize fraud. Even though these controls exist, they may not identify all potential fraudulent transactions in customers’ accounts. To ensure that no questionable transaction took place in your account, it would help if you reviewed your monthly bank statement carefully. If you find any unusual transaction, you should contact your bank immediately.

5. Use Your Bank’s Official Mobile Banking App

Financial institutions do everything possible to ensure their own mobile apps remain secure. In fact, using a bank’s official mobile app may be safer than using your own computer. You can download your bank’s official mobile banking app and use it instead of accessing online banking from your desktop to increase your online banking security.

6. Allow Your Bank to Send Text Alerts

Sign up for text alerts if your bank has that option. Whenever money is withdrawn from or deposited into your account, your bank will send you a text. These frequent notifications allow you to monitor your account’s activity and take note of the suspicious ones. You should contact your bank immediately if you receive a text about any transaction that you did not initiate or authorize.

7. Update Your Devices Regularly

Updates can be annoying because they often take hours or minutes to complete. It’s understandable if you’re tempted to put them off. However, you need to update your phone or computer regularly to ensure that they are protected against malware and security breaches. Updates are often implemented as a way to patch up a newly discovered breach in the software.

8. Don’t Use Automatic Login

Automatic login allows your browser to save your password and username; hence, you do not have to remember your login information whenever you want to access your bank account. While this is convenient, it’s not entirely safe. What if your phone or computer gets into the hands of an unauthorized person? They could easily access your bank account information just by opening up your browser or banking app. If you have enabled this feature on any of your devices, consider disabling it.

9. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Your bank will probably give you the 2FA option. Enable the option to allow your account to get the extra protection that it deserves. Signing up for two-factor authentication will enable you to get a unique, one-time password every time you access your account. While the extra step may seem like an inconvenience, it is worth the effort. Whenever you try logging into your account, you will always get a text or email with a unique code. If you are not the one who initiated the request, you’ll be able to stop the hacker immediately.

10. Secure Your Mobile Device

If you use mobile banking regularly, you should utilize all the security features of your smartphone. Avoid leaving your phone unlocked. You can lock the home screen with a pattern, pin, or a fingerprint. If your phone is ever stolen, the thief will have a hard time trying to get into it.

11. Log Out at the End of Each Session

It also helps if you log out of your banking session as soon as you finish your business. This lessens the odds of becoming a victim of session hijacking. You can also decide to set up private browsing on your smartphone or computer, and allow your browser to clear its cache after every session.

The 11 tips listed above will help you avoid problems when banking online. If you want to be safe when doing online banking, consider implementing all of these recommendations. If you do run into trouble, alert the bank immediately so you can limit or stop the damage.