Online banking has become a tremendous convenience and time saver. But through the Internet you are indirectly connected to billions of people around the world.
To keep your banking information private and secure, you need to make sure to use simple but effective electronic or digital safeguards. Some involve precautions you can take, such as secure passwords and PINs to protect your identity. Others are more a matter of being aware of the potential for scams or fraudulent schemes.
Here are some precautions you can take to keep your online banking and identity secure.Passwords
It's tempting to make passwords easy to remember, or to use the same one to log on to multiple sites. The same applies to security questions: it seems faster and more convenient to choose the same question (and answer) for multiple sites.
However, if the security of your identity is compromised, most likely you will spend weeks or even months trying to repair all the damage done.
Take a few extra moments to create passwords using at least eight characters and a combination of numbers and letters. Some security experts advise changing a password every six months.
Try to choose security questions and answers that would be more difficult for a stranger to guess. Do not choose security questions that are a matter of public record such as, mothers maiden name, what city you were born in, etc. And use different sets of questions and answers for different sites.PINS
Using 9876 or 1234 for a PIN makes it easier for someone to steal your identity. Using the last four digits of your Social Security number is even less secure and really asking for trouble. Try to choose a set of four numbers that makes sense or has meaning for you (not days, months, or years of birthdays) but would seem random to someone else.
Above all, never divulge your password or PIN. If you must write it down, keep it in a secure, locked cabinet or box at home. Never take your password or PIN anywhere with you.
You should always use your own desktop computer, laptop or mobile device for online banking. Using public computers or borrowing a friend's mobile device or laptop are high-risk activities. Experts differ on whether a Wi-Fi network is more or less secure than Ethernet. But generally a home hard-wired Local Area Network with only a few computers linked is more secure than public Wi-Fi spots. The key is having an awareness of how many computers are on a network, whether wireless or Ethernet.
Make sure to stay current with operating system updates, whether Mac or Windows. The system updates are most often tied to security issues. Use the most recent versions of Internet browsers and always download updates whenever they become available.
Take advantage of software that protects your computer against malware, which describes a whole range of viruses, spyware, or other unwanted electronic intrusions into your computer's operating system. Anti-virus or malware protection is usually very reasonably priced and well worth the investment.
Type in our URL address in your browser bar. (Never click on a link to our site that comes in an e-mail; see below). Our secure URL address includes the letter's' after the http in the address bar. That's the address you'll see when logged on to your account.
Always log off when you have completed your online banking transactions. For added protection you may wish to close your browser window as well.
Shut down your computer at night or if you won't be using it for long periods. Not only does that save electricity and money, it cuts down on your vulnerability to viruses or hacking.
Check your online banking statement often, keeping an eye out for any unusual transactions.
E-mail is another convenient and versatile time saver of the digital age. However, banking online requires an extra level of awareness to the fact there are people out there, all around the world, who are always looking for e-mail doors that are slightly open.
Here's how to keep your e-mail door tight and secure.
The most common e-mail scam is called "Phishing." Phishing is an (illegal) attempt to get you to respond to what may seem to be a legitimate e-mail request. Scammers send out official looking mass e-mails to unsuspecting recipients, hoping that among those recipients there will be people who believe the e-mail is a genuine communication.
The fake e-mail will urge you to respond, typically using terms like "urgent" or "immediate response needed." The message may ask you to click on a link that may be close to a real web site address. It may prompt you to click on an attachment to open it. The senders will write that it's "urgent" that you confirm details of your account by going to the web site via the fake link or through the attachment.
Do not respond in any way to e-mails if you are not totally sure you know the sender. If you are even a little suspicious, do not click on the link or open the attachment. The National Bank of Cambridge does not and will not ever send an e-mail asking for account information.
If you suspect an e-mail is fake or fraudulent, the best and safest course is to move the e-mail to your Spam folder, then delete it along with whatever else is in the Spam folder. If the sender was legitimate, (which is unlikely, because rarely if ever would a legitimate company ask you for that information via e-mail) they will find another way to get in touch.
Mobile devices take the convenience of online banking to the next level: not only can you bank anytime, you can bank anywhere.
However, if you use your mobile device to do your online banking, take these special precautions.
Do not leave your device unattended or lend it to other people. Anytime you are not at home and have your device with you, the best advice would be to never let it out of your sight.
If your device is lost or stolen, the first thing unscrupulous people will look for is your financial and personal information. If you lose your device, or change carriers or phone numbers, call our Customer Service line as soon as possible at 410-228-5600. (Some device makers include a feature that lets you 'wipe' or clear information from the phone remotely.)
Utilize whatever locking features your mobile device offers. Do not use voice, text or e-mail to transmit your account information via a mobile device.
Overall, protecting your identity and keeping your personal financial information safe is mostly a matter of being aware that business conducted online requires an extra degree of vigilance and awareness.
The statistics surrounding identity theft and the financial damage that results should be enough to discourage anyone from taking short cuts or letting their guard down.