Online banking is attractive to millions of people for many valid reasons. Among them are the 24-hour availability of the service, the efficiency of transfers and other financial operations, the convenience of being able to access accounts from any internet connection, and the ability to take fiscal responsibility without having to interact with tellers, bankers, and other institutional personnel.
As with other web-enabled activities, however, there are some concerns as well. Identity theft is still a headline-making crime that people fall victim too, and countless scams exist that rely on phishing, deceptive information gathering, social media manipulation, and other devious means.
With so many tools available for a digital criminal’s arsenal, it is no wonder that some human beings remain paranoid and hesitant about giving certain information over the internet, especially for such sensitive pursuits as online banking.
In order to avoid becoming a victim, an online banking customer should utilize common sense. But when simple conscientiousness is not enough of a comfort, there are a few tips that can be remembered as well, to help avoid the potential consequences of online banking.
For the sake of example, imagine that your bank is called Super Bank USA. You have personally stepped into their building in your town, and have now set up some accounts on their nice website, SuperBankUSA.com. You may notice that most websites begin with “http” in their URL, but when you log into your SuperBankUSA account, the URL should start with “https”. The “s” stands for “secure,” and wherever you go on the internet that money is exchanged, this simple extra letter means that a legitimate entity behind the domain name is ensuring that the information switching hands on the site stays in one direction and does not spill into others’ hands. Whenever you bank on SuperBankUSA.com, you should not only ensure that the pages are secure, but that you are never duped (by e-mails or suspicious facebook messages, for instance) into visiting an impostor site like SBUSA.com. Stick to your bank’s website, and become familiar with its interface.
Although most websites of similar sensitive utilize an automatic log-out after a given amount of time, it is still critically important that you log out of your account when you are done with your session of activity. This is absolutely explosively essential if you are on a public computer. Otherwise, public unit or not, someone can sit at that internet connection, notice that you visited a banking website, and they are already logged in. From there, they can do severe damage, damage that simply logging out would prevent.
You may have heard it a hundred times before, but it still echoes true: Never, ever give away personal information over the internet to unknown requesters. Do not release your social security number, bank account information, or even your street address unless you are the one that initiated the contact. Any legitimate business would never send you an e-mail asking for these, even if it “looks legit.” Most reputable organizations have privacy policies that you can review for your own protection.
With common sense and foreknowledge of safety tips, online banking need not be a scary, risky proposition. Instead, as it was intended, it can be another useful, enjoyable tool toward fiscal prosperity.