Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2016 study of identity fraud reveals that every minute online scammers steal $ 35,600 in the U.S. In the UK, one in 10 people have been the victim of fraud or crime in line. While this may make you wary of mobile banking and investing on the go, the good news is that most fraud is the result of human error. As long as you are vigilant and make smart decisions, you can do a lot to ensure your safety online.
Here are four tips to help keep your money safe:
1. Protect your password
Use a strong password with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters; one that is not easy to guess. Password123, qwerty (among the most common passwords), your name, phone number, address or names of children and pets are easy to guess, so avoid them and stay safe online. Change your password frequently, do not keep it on paper and never share it with anyone. Use a secure password manager if you tend to forget your password.
If you get a phone call claiming to be from your bank asking you to provide or verify your account details, make sure it is fraudulent. You may even receive fraudulent emails requesting such information. Never click on a pre-written link to access your bank account, instead type the URL into the browser yourself. If you have enabled autocomplete for web forms, be sure to disable it for your bank’s website.
2. Use a secure / encrypted connection
Do not access your bank account with free / unencrypted public Wi-Fi connections, do not log into your bank’s website on public or shared computers, and always log out and close the window when you have finished making transactions. If you are forced to use a public connection, change your password from your own device (PC, laptop or smartphone) as soon as you can. Whenever possible, use a VPN service to access your account.
Another smart move is to use a separate dedicated browser to access your online bank account. If you use Chrome or Explorer for general browsing, use Firefox for your banking transactions.
3. Use your bank’s security options
Most banks offer a two-step verification process like One Time Password (OTP) for more secure online banking. Use it. Sign up for email alerts / transaction notifications from your bank and pay attention to them. Too often, people filter these messages into a separate folder or archive them without reading them. Make sure you don’t. Review your statements regularly, and if something seems out of place, contact your bank.
4. Protect your devices
To strengthen your online security, make sure all your devices are protected from viruses, hackers, and malware. Install anti-virus and anti-malware software with heuristic capabilities. Configure firewall. Keep your operating system up to date and activate the highest levels of security in your web browsers.
Key takeaway: The more alert you are, the more secure your online banking experience will be.