Have you been longing for the convenience of online banking, but you can’t bring yourself to do it for fear it isn’t safe? Are you banking online, but having problems sleeping at night because you’re worried someone might hack into your online bank account?
Whether you’ve been using online banking for years or have never used it, chances are you have some concerns about the safety of banking online. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be too worried. Online banks use state-of-the-art encryption to ensure hackers can’t gain access to your bank account, and if you’re banking at an institution insured by the FDIC, the federal government insures your deposits.
While online banking is safe if used correctly, there are some steps you can take to ensure that your money remains secure:
Bank at institutions that are FDIC insured
Ensure your bank uses 128-bit encryption to protect information sent over the Internet
Make sure to only access your account through the bank’s official website
Create secure passwords to use to access your account
Keep your computer secure with antivirus software, adware protection, and passwords
Bank at Institutions that are FDIC Insured
Not all online banks are FDIC insured since some banks are chartered overseas. Would you keep your money at a local bank that isn’t insured by the FDIC? Likewise, bank at online institutions that are FDIC insured. Bank Find is a free service provided by the FDIC where you can check the status of any bank at http://www.fdic.gov.
Ensure Your Bank Uses 128-bit Encryption
128-bit encryption is a method online banks and other websites use to ensure sensitive information can only be viewed by the intended receiver. Once the information is encrypted, only computers with the right encryption key can read the information. It’s virtually impossible for someone to steal your information if 128-bit encryption is used to secure it.
You can find out what encryption methods an online bank uses by visiting their website or asing them. When you log into the online bank to make a banking transaction, your Web browser will display a lock, key, or other symbol to indicate that the information you transmit via the site is encrypted.
Make Sure to Only Access Your Account through the Bank’s Official Website
One of the biggest risks to your financial information is that you’ll be lured into giving your banking information to someone other than your bank. Usually, this happens when an unsuspecting person receives an email disguised to look like the person’s bank sent the email. The email may say that the receiver needs to visit the bank’s website and access their bank account, and a link to the bank’s website is provided.
The problem is that these types of emails usually aren’t sent by a real bank. Instead, they are sent by criminals who have created websites that look like the bank’s website. If you enter your username and password on this fictitious website, the criminal has the information they need to access your real bank account.
To protect yourself from this type of fraud, make sure that you only access your bank account through your bank’s official website. Be very wary of clicking on links in emails that claim to be from your bank or another e-commerce website. Instead, access your bank’s website directly, and you can be confident you’re only giving your username and password to your bank, not a criminal.
Create Secure Passwords
Another way you can protect yourself while banking online is to create a secure password for your bank account. Never use your name, birth date, or other easy to guess information as your password. Instead, use both letters and numbers in your password. If a random sequence of numbers and letters is too hard for you to remember, try replacing the vowels in a word with letters. For instance, “s3c4r3” is a much stronger password than “secure”.
Keep Your Computer Secure
One final way to protect your online banking account is to keep your computer secure. Routinely run antivirus, adware, and spyware detection software to ensure your computer’s security hasn’t been compromised. Additionally, if your computer is in a public area, setup a password on your computer so only you can access it.
Online banking is a useful convenience for millions of people, as it makes it easier to transfer funds, check balances, and perform other routine banking transactions. While security will always be a concern for online banks and the people who use them, you can rest assured that online banking is safe, so long as you take reasonable steps to protect yourself.