Online banking has revolutionized how we manage money, making it easier to track funds, check monthly statements, move money into different accounts, and so much more. However, having all those advanced banking capabilities online can also open you up to threats from hackers, scammers and fraudsters. Here are five ways to fight back.
- Change Your Password Regularly
With so many passwords to keep track of, most people are reluctant to regularly change their password—but switching up your log-in credentials is a quick, easy way to help protect your online banking privacy. It prevents a hacker from accessing your account multiple times and prevents someone from using an old or saved password to get their hands on your data. Of course, when you change your password, make sure it’s a strong password every time. Some people prefer to use a “passphrase” instead of password, which means putting together a string of words that’s easy to remember but hard for hackers to guess.
- Always Check Your Bank Statement
Sure—your bank statement is probably not at the top of your summer reading list! But all the same, it’s important to always check your monthly statement. Make sure that you recognize every charge, including the very small ones, as thieves hoping to escape notice will sometimes make a series of very small withdrawals from your account. Moreover, checking your monthly statement is also a good way to stay on top of your credit score, because once again, any irregularities could indicate that a scammer is using your information to apply for credit. If you see something that doesn’t look right, get in touch with your credit union or bank as soon as possible.
- Set up Two-factor Authentication
If your online banking platform gives you the option to set up two-factor authentication, do it! Two-factor authentication gives you an extra layer of protection when banking online. Usually, choosing this authentication method will require you to input a piece of information such as a password, and to perform an action such as typing out a code sent to your phone via SMS. While two-factor authentication does add a few more seconds to the log-in process, it’s worth it to deter scammers who may have found a way to access your banking password.
- Only Bank Through Official Channels
Scammers are not necessarily high-tech. Many of the most common frauds involve human-to-human conversation. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your credit union or bank and asking for sensitive information—such as your account number, online banking password, social security number or even your name and address—hang up the phone. Then, call back your financial institution on an official number listed on your most recent statement. They can explain whether or not it was an official communication. If not, get their support in shoring up your account security immediately and reporting the scammer.
- Safeguard Your Own Technology
Protecting your own technology will make it much harder for fraudsters to get access to your online banking information. To start, update your computer and cell phone operating systems regularly, so that you’re able to run the most advanced anti-virus software. It’s also a good idea to avoid online banking on public Wi-Fi networks, which can open you up to attacks from hackers electronically eavesdropping on your online activities. If you do need to check sensitive information in public, use your online banking app via a cell phone with data, or if you do need to log in to public Wi-Fi, consider first downloading a VPN.