Top 10 Cybersecurity Tips for Online Banking!

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Last week, Jane Doe logged into her email account and saw that she had an email from ABC Bank about her savings account. It was a simple email stating that the bank had changed some of its customer service policies and that she was required to verify several pieces of information or her account could be frozen. The details required included her date of birth, ATM card number, the dollar value of the funds in her account, and her online banking password. Upon realizing that she missed the deadline stipulated in the email, she immediately contacted ABC Bank with concern about the possibility that her account would be frozen. Alarmed, the representatives of the bank requested that she forward the email for their review. The bank confirmed that it was an attempted phishing attack, which is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that resemble emails from trustworthy sources in an effort to steal valuable information for criminal purposes. Thankfully for Jane, that phone call to her bank saved her from a potential loss.

Cybersecurity is the infamous buzzword surrounding online banking practices. It entails banks having multiple layers of protection for account holders including having secure networks and programs, updated technology features, strong firewalls, and email security solutions. Regardless of the number of protective measures that a bank has in place, there are criminals who try to take advantage of unassuming customers by stealing and using their electronic data without their permission.

Fortunately, there are easy ways that you can protect yourself. Here are 10 habits you can start with right now:

1. Protect The Plastic

Your bank cards are personal gold mines of electronic information and as such, you must protect them at all times. You should never allow other people, even family members, to use your cards (especially if they are not being used under your direct supervision). Ensure that they are stored safely. If your card is ever lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately.

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2. Become an Online Detective

Know the ins and outs of your online accounts by monitoring your transactions regularly. Make it a part of your daily or weekly routine to log into your account and check your latest activities. This is by far the easiest way to detect any fraudulent activity on your account. If you notice a transaction that is unfamiliar, call your bank immediately to inquire about it. Most banks have a 24-hour call centre that you can contact for help.

3. Protect ALL Passwords

Make sure the password for your online banking platform is very strong, and remember to change the password regularly. Strong passwords normally have a mix of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Try to stay away from using the same password for other online mediums, such as social media and email accounts.

4. Don’t Play with Your PIN

Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is unique to you. Never give this number to anyone else, not even an employee of your bank! When choosing a PIN, try to steer clear of using the same number in a row (e.g. 1111) or consecutive numbers (e.g. 1234).

5. Check Unfamiliar Fees

We mentioned earlier that you should take note of any unfamiliar transactions found on your account. What many people don’t realize is that you should also be on the look out for unfamiliar bank fees. We are not saying that every bank fee is a part of a scam attempt, but if you notice a new charge on your account, you should contact your bank to ask about it. It’s likely that the bank made changes to its fee schedule and you simply weren’t aware of them. However, the worst case scenario would be that an unauthorized person accessed your account and made deductions from your account disguised as bank fees. You won’t know until you ask.

6. Stay Alert

Many online banking channels give you the option to have alerts sent to your email or smartphone. Take advantage of this feature - it helps you to stay updated without logging into your account!

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7. Think Before You Link

There are many apps and websites that allow you to link your account information to them for easy payment options. While this option can be very convenient, protect yourself by researching these companies to make sure that they are trustworthy. Also, pay attention to the website’s URL address. Tip: the URL should begin with https:// and have a padlock icon at the left to confirm that the site is secure. If you have any concerns that an online company is reputable, don’t share your credit or debit card or banking information with them!

8. Secure Connections and Devices ONLY

Only log in to your online banking account on secure WiFi networks, such as your home network. Public WiFi networks may not be secure and can potentially allow hackers to access your information. This means that it may not be wise to log into your account while using your local coffee shop’s WiFi network. You can protect yourself even further by making sure that your devices have updated firewall protections and that other security software is always turned on. The two most common and useful types are antivirus protection, which shields your computer from malicious code, and anti-spyware, which prevents others from monitoring your activity.

9. Check Your Surroundings

You were taught at a young age to check our surroundings for safety purposes The same concept applies when using ATMs. Avoid using ATMs late at night and stay away from machines that are not affiliated with a reputable bank. Be aware of your surroundings - if something seems ‘off’ to you, get out there.

10. Outsmart the Scammer

In Jane Doe’s situation, she was able to avoid a phishing attempt by simply calling her bank for more information. You can protect yourself as well if someone ever tries to steal your information. Remember that banks will never send you an email requesting sensitive information over the internet! Scan the email for improper spelling and/or grammar, and avoid clicking any links. If you are unsure about whether the email originated from your bank or from a criminal, simply call your bank and ask about the email.

The internet is filled with opportunities for efficiency and accessibility, opening our worlds and making our lives much more convenient. It makes it easier for you to perform simple banking tasks that will save you time and money! However, we must remain alert and practice safe banking habits regularly. So, grab your smartphone and download your bank’s online banking app today. With the tips mentioned in this article, you can “Get Money Smart” and stay that way while protecting yourself.