Online Banking Safety Tips
As more and more people have access to the internet and use it for their daily business, more and more banks and other financial institutions are using it as a tool to promote and offer products and services to their customers, and to enhance communications between them.
Is online banking and the internet safe? Well, it’s a bit like crossing the road really – if you always use a crossing and wait for the appropriate signal, then keep your eyes and ears about you just to double check, you should reach the other side safe and sound - if, however, you run blindly into the traffic you’re very likely to end up as roadkill. The internet is similar, it does have the potential to be safe but you do have to be vigilant at all times.
For your online banking activities to be safe you need to:
- know that you are dealing with a legitimate bank with insured deposits (you can’t actually see a shop front like you would walking along the street)
- make sure that your private and personal information will be kept safe and secure
- understand what rights you have, as a consumer
- learn about banking regulators and how they can help you (if necessary)
The banking website – will probably have an “about us” section or similar. This should provide information such as the official name of the bank, the address of headquarters, a brief history and info relating to the FDIC and its insurance cover. If it don’t have these things continue your search . . . for another bank!
Banking Websites - and addresses are often targeted by “copycats” – looking very similar to the original but intended to lure you into giving out your personal information, passwords and account numbers, that sort of thing. Never click on a link to visit your banks website, always type the address into the bar and check that you’ve got it right. If you’re a little unsure or something looks a bit “wrong” then close it down and start again to be on the safe side before conducting any transactions.
The Banking Website should make it quite easy for you to see that they are insured by the FDIC, it’s in their best interests to do so. If you can’t see the familiar FDIC logo then you can always check out their status on the FDIC website, the bank might even provide you with a link.
Bank names are not always the same for their online business as they are for their “walk in” business. This doesn’t mean that they are two separate banks. If you have money deposited at the parent bank with more money deposited with the online bank (even if they are different names) it is likely that the amounts will be lumped together and may exceed the maximum amount covered by one bank (if you’re lucky enough to have $250,000 sitting around). It’s worth checking if you’re close to the threshold.
Fraudulent emails are unfortunately rife in the banking and financial world. It’s a pity that these scammers (who must be incidentally, extremely clever) can’t put their brains to good use and make their money legitimately. Anyway, the bottom line is that banks do not send out emails (however convincing they may appear to be) asking for your account numbers, passwords and personal details. Never reply to one of these emails and never, ever click on a link otherwise you stand a very good chance of infecting your computer with spyware and your security may be breached.