How safe is online banking?
A growing number of transactions are processed digitally and more emerging financial institutions are exclusively online. It’s natural for consumers to be concerned about how safe their money is in our increasingly digital world. Major data breaches like those of the IRS in 2015 and Equifax in 2017 shake consumer confidence. But you and your bank are partners in keeping your money safe, and there are a few steps you can take to boost your money’s security.
Security features every bank should use
Keeping your trust strong and your money safe is in your bank’s best interest. All bank computers are equipped with antivirus software. The connections between you and your bank are made over secure, encrypted networks behind layers of firewalls. Your bank may require two-factor authentication when you try to log in. This means that in addition to a password, they may ask a security question or require a one-time use access code sent to your mobile phone.
Banks have entire departments dedicated to protecting and preventing fraud against their account holders. Everything you have to do to access your money or information is the result of fraud prevention methods. For example, you get logged out of your bank account automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity. This is to prevent someone from accessing your account when you step away from the computer but leave yourself logged in.
Online banks versus brick-and-mortar
Online-only financial institutions employ the same security measures as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The main difference is there is usually no branch to visit in-person. However, these online banks usually have excellent customer service ratings.
The other major difference for some may be the interest rate offered or the lack of fees charged. Online banks have far fewer costs to cover than traditional banks.
Actively participate in your online security
Your bank does its best to keep your money safe, but you have to be an active participant. This starts with choosing your bank. Be sure they are FDIC insured, and that they use SSL-encrypted connections when you access your information online. Check that you are automatically logged out for inactivity when visiting your bank’s website. Be sure you change your password every 60 to 90 days. Monitor your account’s activity and report anything suspicious immediately.
When you are on the go, do not use wireless networks to access your bank information. Connect over a VPN or wait until you get home to do your banking. Make sure that your computer and your mobile device both have robust antivirus software. Learn to recognize suspicious emails so you do not open them. And never provide usernames, passwords, or your social security number to anyone unless you can confirm they are who they say they are.