As online banking grows in popularity, many become concerned with its safety. Luckily there are many things a consumer can do to increase the safety of their online banking and online transactions.
The first thing an educated consumer can do is become aware of common internet scams. By being skeptical, a consumer can avoid accidentally giving out important banking details. The most common form of online banking scam are fake emails that appear to come from your bank. These emails ask you to log in to your bank to correct something: normally a bill payment or a wire transfer. You should never click on a link in any email that claims to be from your bank. Instead, you should always go directly to your banking website and log in from there. If you have any doubt to the claims of an email you receive you should call customer support and ask. A bolder variant of these scams involves telephone calls requesting your online information. You should never have to provide your bank account information to a representative that has called you.
Those with online bank accounts should change their password often, keep their passwords in a safe place and log off every time they use their bank account. Longer, more complex passwords are the most difficult to break. The length of the password, as well as the variety of characters used, is extremely important. Consumers should also keep their antivirus software up to date and keep their firewall on at all times to protect from web exploits.
Finally, it is important to be vigilant when reviewing your online transactions. You should check your bank statements regularly and immediately report any suspicious transactions to your bank. Many banks have extremely generous fraud policies and will be able to handle the problems immediately. If you use third party merchants to protect your online transactions, you can normally reverse any fraudulent charges when you notice them. When making online purchases, you should either use a third party merchant service or stay with well known and reputable online marketplaces.
Online banking is an extremely useful tool, but must be approached with caution. By educating yourself you can take advantage of the benefits while protecting yourself from the potential pitfalls and risks.