How to Practice Safe Online Banking

Online banking provides an extremely convenient way for people to manage their finances and has grown to become a mainstream banking service. Banks have invested huge sums of money in ensuring that their online banking services are protected by sophisticated security solutions and an integral part of this is the need for users to enter secret login credentials to verify themselves each time that they access the service. Security remains a very important aspect of online banking and users need to be vigilant in how they safeguard their login details. Let’s look then at some of the main ways in which online banking users can remain safe.

 – Create passwords and passcodes that are strong and aren’t easy to guess:

When you sign up for online banking you will typically be asked to create passwords and/or passcodes. These must then be entered correctly each time that you subsequently wish to access the service. It’s important, therefore, that you choose passwords that are sufficiently strong and that aren’t easy to guess. Strong passwords are often considered to be ones which contain a combination of letters and numbers and upper and lower case characters. Choosing passwords and passcodes that aren’t easy to guess means avoiding family names, dates of birth, favorite football teams, etc!

 – Don’t write your passwords down where they might be found or intercepted:

Having your passwords in a notebook beside your computer, on your mobile phone, or in a spreadsheet may leave them susceptible to being found or intercepted by other people. For this reason, banks will nearly always advise that you should commit your login credentials to memory and not write them down.

 – Never provide your login credentials via e-mail, in branch, or over the phone:

The only time your bank should ever ask you to provide your online banking login credentials is on the online banking login screen, and the chances are that they will only ever ask you to enter parts of the passwords and/or passcode, such as first, third, and fifth character. If you receive a phone call or e-mail purporting to be from your bank and asking for your login details, then do not respond. The chances are that it is a phishing attempt by a fraudster.

 – Be vigilant for shoulder surfers:

If you are entering your login details in an environment, like an Internet café or office, where there are other people, then make sure that no-one is standing behind you watching what login details you are entering. In general, it’s probably better to avoid accessing online banking from Internet cafes as you will also have less control over the computer’s security settings.

 – Only ever access your Bank’s online banking service by directly visiting their website:

Avoid clicking on e-mail links that purport to take you to your bank’s online banking site, in case it may take you to a fake version of the site. The safest approach is always to type your bank’s website address directly into your browser and then locate the “Login to online banking” button on their site. In this way, you can be confident that you are on their genuine site rather than a spoofed version created by a fraudster.

 – Ensure you have appropriate security protection on your computer:

One of the most scary threats for Internet users is the possibility of their computer being infected with malicious malware that then sits invisibly in the background and records their computer activity. To guard against this, it’s vital that you have anti virus software loaded on your computer and that you keep it up to date. Products like Norton Antivirus will scan your computer, provide warnings where threats are identified and will attempt to delete or quarantine any viruses or trojans that they identify. Ensuring your computer’s firewall is switched on is another important preventative step that you can take. The Bank Safe Online website is a useful source for further information on Internet banking security and it also stresses the importance of downloading the latest security updates/patches for your web browser and operating system.

– Don’t re-use your online banking passwords and passcodes on other websites:

The more you re-use passwords and passcodes across different websites, the more susceptible you will become to possible fraud. It should be common sense, anyway, that you’d want to keep your online banking credentials separate from passwords that you may use to log into Facebook, Amazon, or other online sites.

– If you believe your details have been compromised contact your bank’s helpdesk immediately:

It’s much better to be safe than sorry so if you have any doubts about whether your service has been compromised then it’s important to contact your bank’s online banking helpdesk. They will be able to advise on how best to proceed. This may just be a case of asking you to change your login credentials.

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