Online banking is not only extremely convenient, it is also very common. Most brick-and-mortar banks offer a number of services that can be done from their app or website, and some banks are strictly online with no physical branch at all.
Unfortunately, this convenience can come with a price. Online banking is often a target for hackers who would love to get a hold of your personal information. In addition, if you happen to lose your phone and you have saved all of your password information on your bank and credit card apps, whoever finds it may decide to go on a shopping spree.
Fortunately, you don’t have to abandon the ease of online banking; by keeping the following dos and don’ts in mind, using your phone and computer to take care of financial tasks can be a safe experience.
Do: Learn to Spot the Risks
The more you know about how crooks may try to access your bank account info, the less likely it is to happen. Common tactics include phishing, which involves receiving an e-mail, phone call or text message from someone pretending to be from your bank, in the hopes that you will reveal personal information like your bank account or credit card number.
Other tactics include keylogging, which is software that can record the keystrokes you are making and then using this information to get into your account. Since keylogging can often take place when you use public Wi-Fi, this leads us to the following Don’t.
Don’t: Pay Your Bills in the Local Coffee Shop
When you are sipping a lovely latte at your fave coffee shop or enjoying the air-conditioned quiet at your local library, unfortunately, criminals may be sitting nearby just waiting for you to pull out your phone for some online banking. Keylogging can also be accomplished with a video camera that records everything you are typing. As Wired notes, even if keylogging is not going on around you, public Wi-Fi networks are less secure than the one you use at home because you probably can’t determine who set it up, who else is connected to it and who may be trying to access what you are doing.
Do: Invest in an Identity Theft Protection Plan
Unfortunately, sometimes hackers will gain access to your accounts by getting into the entire bank’s system. Receiving an e-mail or phone call from your credit card or bank saying that your accounts and passwords have been exposed can be immensely stressful, as is realizing that a criminal did gain access to your account. To help with this situation, consider purchasing an identity theft protection plan.
If you are concerned that this might be a costly endeavor, think again: it is possible to find discounts on really great programs. For example, one of the current LifeLock special offers will give you up to 25 percent off your first year. LifeLock will then monitor your accounts and personal information, alert you if there is an issue and then be on your side and help you resolve any personal identity theft situations.
Don’t: Get Lax about Updating Your Anti-Virus Program
Sure, it can be easy to skip those “update your computer virus software now” e-mails, but doing so may increase your chances of being hacked at home. Make sure you have the latest virus and malware scanning software on your computers and then update it immediately as needed. As a side note, resist the urge to save all of your passwords on your bank and credit card websites; it will take a few more seconds to enter in the information, but it also means if someone breaks into your home or steals your phone, he or she will not have immediate access to your accounts.
Online Banking Can Still Be Safe
Online banking is so easy and is such a time saver, it would be hard to go back to paying bills by check and visiting a branch to deposit your checks. Fortunately, by being aware of the risks and how to avoid them, plus investing in an identity theft protection program, you should be able to enjoy the convenience of online banking without any issues.