Modern banking comes with amenities that weren’t available a few decades, or even years, ago. However, these conveniences can come with heightened security risks. As technology and banking capabilities evolve, it can be overwhelming to keep up with security tips.
Here are some best practices for keeping your bank accounts safe while still utilizing technology:
1. Choose a strong and unique password. Using the same password across accounts might seem convenient, but it puts you at greater risk of a compromise. For example, if a fraudster is able to uncover your Instagram password and you’re using the same one for your Online Banking account, you’ve made it very easy for them to access your finances. Always use a unique password for your bank accounts. It’s also important to steer clear of passwords that include public information such as birthdays, names of family members, or common combinations such as “1234”. It’s also a good idea to use a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters to strengthen your password. A physical or online password manager can be a helpful tool to keep the login information for all of your accounts organized.
2. Use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication (or MFA) requires you to take a second step to access your account. A common form of MFA is requiring a verification code in addition to your password. These codes are typically sent to the email address or phone number you have on file in your account. Security questions are another form of MFA. You typically set them up within your account and are then prompted to enter them after providing your password. If your Online Banking account offers multi-factor authentication, you should strongly consider implementing it. It might take a couple more seconds to log in, but your bank account will be safer.
3. Don’t save your payment information online. Saving your bank account or debit card information to your phone, computer, or web browser can be convenient when shopping online, but it can put your financial data at risk. If your device or a merchant website is hacked, those banking details could easily fall into the wrong hands.
4. Be aware of common scams. Unfortunately, new scams are constantly popping up. Pay attention to the latest scams being reported on the news or social media. Many scams involve phishing, which is when hackers impersonate a person or company to try and solicit information from you through email, phone, or text message. Educate yourself on how to spot a phishing attempt. Hover over links before clicking on them to see where they’re really pointing, and be wary of unusual, urgent requests. If you receive a phone call, email, or text message claiming to be your bank, it’s a good idea to hold off on replying until you can verify it’s really them. Call your bank from their publicly listed number to see if they were actually trying to reach you.
5. Check your accounts frequently. Checking your bank accounts at least once a week, if not daily, can help you quickly spot any unusual activity. If there’s fraudulent activity on your account, the sooner you know about it, the better. Frequently checking your account can also help you keep tabs on your available balance so you can avoid overdraft fees and insufficient funds charges. In addition to logging into your account regularly, you can also set up notifications within Online Banking to alert you to withdrawals. This can be another good way to spot fraudulent activity right away.
6. Report suspicious activity immediately. Time is of the essence when reporting fraudulent activity in your bank account. Notify your bank immediately so they can lock down the account to prevent further fraud and start an investigation. Plus, the faster you report suspected fraud, the less likely you are to be liable for it. For certain types of unauthorized transactions, your loss is limited to $50 if you report the fraud within two business days. If you pass the two-day timeframe, but report the unauthorized activity within 60 days, you could be on the hook for up to $500 in losses. And if you wait longer than 60 days to report fraudulent activity, you may not recover anything. Banks don’t want their customers to take a loss due to fraud, and quickly notifying them of suspicious account activity gives them a better chance of putting a stop to it.
You can make payments, deposit checks, and check your balances from just about anywhere in the world with today’s technology. Unfortunately, with ever-growing technological advances, hackers are becoming more sophisticated as well. You can never be too safe with your financial information and being one-step ahead can prevent your bank account from falling into the wrong hands. For more cybersecurity tips and information on the latest scams, visit the BankFive Security Alerts page.