The Internet has changed the world of commerce. Where before we deposited our tangible notes and coins in bank, or purchased goods with cash, picked them up and took them home ourselves, now our banking and purchasing lives are increasingly played out online.While incredibly convenient, online banking and financial services come with their own risks and challenges.
We’ve put together some straightforward tips to keep you safe in this brave new world of online banking.
Beware of identity theft
Always be careful with your ID cards, passport, etc. and immediately report any loss or theft to the police. Be careful about sharing personal details on social media websites, and contact your bank if you suspect your personal information is being misused.
Don’t get caught by phishers
Phishing is the process where a fraudster gets hold of your personal data or credit card details via email, sms or phone. The most common method nowadays is email. Here, a good spam filter will help you. Don’t open suspicious messages – delete them immediately. Never, ever provide your confidential information via email or pop-up messages. Your bank will never ask you to do this- anyone who does is a fraud. Never reply to emails that promise you money in return for your bank account number. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Keep your passwords strong
It’s awkward to use complicated passwords, but you need to make it difficult for hackers to break the security of your account. Your password needs to contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Change your passwords regularly, and make sure that you have different ones for different accounts. You can make them easier to remember by substituting symbols for letters (e.g. “password” becomes “P@ssw0rd”).
Practise “real-life” verification
Double-check your Internet transactions against your bank and credit card statements regularly. This is the best way to become aware of suspicious activity in your accounts.
Only visit websites you trust. Be careful not to download files or programs from unknown websites. Install security software such as antivirus programmes, firewalls, spam filters and anti-malware programmes.
Take care of your computer security
Make sure that you are always running the latest version of your operating system- set your computer to check for the latest updates automatically. Set the security level of your browser to high.
Use multi-step verification
Many internet transactions are now a two- or even three-step process, which people may see as an inconvenience, but which is most useful in securing your money and your details. Codes sent via SMS to your mobile, and websites that require authentication via an extra password, will keep you and your accounts safe.
Watch your network security
If you’re using a WiFi connection, make sure that it is secured, and never use public computers for your internet banking.
However convenient and efficient internet banking may be, it always pays to be vigilant, for any form of money transaction will by its very nature attract fraudsters and criminals. Keep an eye on your security, your identity and your technology, and happy banking!