Tip #5 Online Banking
As life becomes more convenient and with the growth of the Internet, many of us have turned to online banking to pay bills, transfer money, check balances, etc… This has also made it convenient for criminals to prey on the weaknesses of these same online systems that we use. Fortunately, there are some simple tips that you can follow to make for a safe online banking experience.
PROTECT YOUR ID and PASSWORD:
This is by far the simplest step you can take to securing your banking information. Cybercriminals would love to have this vital piece of information. To prevent this, make sure your password is not something that can easily be guessed. Don’t use the name of a family member, your birthday, or any other easily guessed information in your password. In tip #1 we discussed using a pass-phrase or a mnemonic. The longer, the better but at least 8 characters. You should also change your password every 90 days or so.
BEWARE OF SUSPICIOUS EMAILS:
In tip #2 we discussed phishing scams where a crook will send emails that seem to be from legitimate financial institutions. These emails are very real in appearance and can appear to be convincing because they contain language that sounds as if your account may be having issues. However, these emails often contain a link that leads you to a fake site designed to lure you into compromising personal information.
Many times by looking carefully you can recognize these phishing emails by looking for these tell tale signs:
- Failure to address you correctly
- The message contains many grammatical errors
- There are links to suspicious or unfamiliar domains (such as .ru which is Russia)
- The message asks you for your password, PIN, or credit card information
If you are not sure, it is always safe to check with your financial institution. Most banks welcome these types of questions. Legitimate emails from your online bank will typically follow the same standards each time. They will usually address you by your proper name and will never ask for account information.
USE ANTI-VIRUS AND FIREWALL PROTECTION:
This is a basic overall best practice for everyone’s computer regardless of the tasks you perform.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION:
If you think you may have accidentally submitted your personal information to a fraudulent website call your bank as quickly as possible. Also, be sure your bank has your current mailing address and phone number(s). Most banks will contact you by phone or send a letter if sensitive information is involved.