5 Tips for Safer Online Banking and TransactionsSubmitted by Financial Planning Solutions, LLC on July 26th, 2017
This is the second in a series of articles on cybersecurity. We encourage you to read it carefully. Thank you and credit goes to MassIT: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ lead agency for cybersecurity, http://www.mass.gov/anf/research-and-tech/cyber-security/
1. Choose an account with two-factor authentication.
Try to get an account with a bank that offers some form of two-factor authentication for online banking. Not all banks offer it but some will issue a small device that can be used to generate a unique code each time you log in. Others may offer an option to send you the code through text on your phone. This code is only valid for a very short period of time and is required in addition to your login credentials in order to grant you access to your account.
2. Create a strong password.
Make sure you create a very strong password for your online bank account. The best passwords are long and a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using any common words or phrases. Never create a password that contains your name, initials, or your date of birth. It is a good practice to change your password occasionally and to not reuse the same one for other accounts.
3. Avoid clicking on links in emails sent from financial institutions.
Financial institutions, and especially banks will never ask you to provide any of your login details through email. If you receive an email that appears to be from your bank that asks for such details, it is more than likely a phishing attempt to trick you into revealing your credentials.
Also be aware of links in emails that appear to be from your bank. When you click on them to log in to what you think is your account, you are actually logging in to another site that only looks like your bank’s site. Once you have typed your credentials, they can then steal your username and password and gain access to your bank account and its contents. The safest way to access your online bank account is by typing the address into your browser directly.
4. Whenever possible, set up account notifications.
If your bank offers the option of setting up alert notification on your bank account, it is advisable to take advantage of this feature. You can set up alerts that will send you a text or an email if for example, a withdrawal exceeds a specified amount, if the account balance dips below a certain point, or if someone attempts to log into your account but is unsuccessful. These alerts are a nice and fast way to monitor for suspicious activities on your bank account.
5. Always log out when you are done.
Once you have finished your online banking transactions, make sure to log out from the session and not just close the browser. This will reduce the risk from potential session hijacking and cross-site scripting exploits. It is also a good practice to set your browser to clear its cache at the end of each session. To do that, go to the Settings section of your browser.
It may seem like a lot of extra work, but what would you do if someone hacked into your bank account and made a withdrawal. After it’s done, there’s not much you can do. And, many banks place limits on their responsibilities if your account is compromised (that’s in the fine print that every financial institution makes you “Accept” when you first log on).
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. FPS provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.