In the 21st century, more and more individuals are managing their money online. But how can you be certain your funds are protected? That your online transfers won’t be intercepted? Whenever money is exchanging hands there is an inherent risk. However, secure online banking features are designed to alleviate some of the risk. They can even be less risky than traditional payment methods like mailing a check. To some extent, online banking security can be impacted by your own actions, but a responsible institution will provide strong security measures to mitigate risk. Consider the following factors to find out if online bill payment and other banking functions are secure at your bank.
Key factors in secure online banking
Many banks don’t disclose their exact security measures as doing so would present a security risk. However, there are important things to look for on a bank’s website that let you know it is secure enough to use open a checking account and use online bill payment services.
- Encryption: Any site handling online bill payment should have an encryption program translate and encode data for more secure transport. You can check to see if there is encryption by reading a bank’s online banking security statement, or looking in your browser to see if there is a padlock icon or “https” in front of the site’s URL.
- Device recognition: Many banks will ask you to answer security questions if you log on from a different IP address or device than normal. They may even ask for multi-device identification, having your enter your phone number as well if you use your phone for mobile banking. This helps reduce remote hacks of your account.
- Password prompt/secure logon: Banks will require a user name and password to access online bill pay and banking. After a certain period of time you may be prompted to change your password. You may also be temporarily locked out of your account after entering an incorrect password too many times, and most systems will automatically log you off after a period of inactivity. This is also done to reduce the likelihood that hackers can access your account.
- Secure firewalls: Banks should have multiple lines of defense against cyber criminals. Check to make sure they have several firewalls up to protect your online bill payments, transfers and funds.
- Fraud protection and online banking security promise: Banks should have a statement outlining what to do if you detect fraud on your account, as well as how they plan to protect or reimburse you. Some even fully protect and reimburse you from any repercussions if you report the fraud within a few days. (Those are the good guys.) Thoroughly read any online banking security guarantee or privacy pledge to find out how you will be protected if you choose to open a checking account at that institution.
- Extra security software: If your bank offers extra security for your desktop computer it may be wise to take advantage of it in addition to your current program. This can provide customized alerts, a privacy notice and easy fraud detection, reporting and correction so you know if any of your personal data is compromised. A little extra help never hurt anyone.
If you use your mobile phone for banking, be sure these crucial online banking security measures are available for mobile as well.
Ways you can enhance your online banking security
As a customer, there are several things to do to improve your online banking security.
- Avoid clicking through links in emails. Spammers and hackers will spoof legitimate sites. It’s best to go directly to the URL of your institution.
- Do not enter privileged information like your PIN online or over the phone.
- Monitor your statements often with online banking to quickly identify and report fraud.
- Install anti-virus software on your computer and mobile phone.
- Password-protect your email and phone.
- Change your password often and avoid writing it down or making it too easy to be discovered.
- Be aware of the security level on sites where you use your credit card to make purchases.
If you follow these precautions and find an institution with secure online banking you should have fewer issues and safe online bill payments and transactions. However, should you notice fraudulent activity, notify your bank immediately to reduce the chance that you are liable for whatever funds are missing. Careful, regular monitoring of your account can help catch issues quickly and limit repercussions. Learn more about secure online banking from your institution’s website or call their customer service number. Then open a checking account with a bank you can trust.
Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.