Unlike some decades back when a person had to get early to the bank to stay in the queue in order to perform a transaction, this is no longer the case. An account owner can do transactions at any time and at any place. With internet, a customer can use his laptop and make all the transactions he wants. Even with the use of mobile phones, a person can receive and send large sums of money as long as he has some data. He can go through the statement of his accounts online, make enquiries from the bank and get instant response. He can even apply for loans and do other transactions.
A common practice among many people who try to do online transactions is using Wifi when they do not have their own Internet. With unprotected Wifi, a person can transfer huge sum of money. While online banking is easy and convenient, experts are of the view that users must exercise some caution while using it for personal transactions.
Many will argue that banking online has been the best invention in recent years. And there is no doubt about that: no more statements and papers — everything is on your computer or mobile device, right at your fingertips, according to blog.merchantsbank.com.
But while banking online is certainly a feat that will make your life easier, there are some things that people do without even realising it can be hazardous to their accounts’ safety.
For your own security and protection, avoid the following online banking mistakes:
1. Don’t use an easy-to-guess password – You may be surprised at the number of people using original passwords, and how dangerous it can be. In an analysis of 32 million passwords, Imperva, an Internet and data security company, found the top 10 passwords are: 123456, 12345, 123456789, Password, iloveyou, princess, rockyou, 1234567, 12345678 and abc123. These give hackers an easy in to your account.
If you’re using one of these or something similar, consider changing it. Note that the best passwords are ones that use both letters and numerals and involve both lowercase and uppercase characters. Also, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi – When it comes to online banking, accessing community Wi-Fi is a no-no. Why? “People generally don’t bother to check out the security characteristics of public networks before logging on, plus wireless transmissions can be intercepted by nearby bluetooth-type devices,” says Richard Barrington, a spokesman for MoneyRates.com. That includes public libraries, too.
“The PCs [at libraries] are subject to viruses and spyware that you have no control over,” explains Robert Sicillano, a consultant for McAfee, an expert on identity theft.
3. Don’t dismiss anti-virus protection – This kind of software helps detect and protect you from malicious software (malware) and computer viruses. That is important because “[common viruses like] trojans and worms can infect your computer and use keystrokes and other tactics to get your bank credentials,” warns Sol Nasisi, a chief economist at BestCashCow.com.
It is best if you set up your protection software to automatically update daily. Also, sometimes your financial institution may provide free software, so be sure to ask about it if you are unsure.
4. Don’t ignore your account – Check your account regularly. That will help ensure nothing suspicious is going on in your current and savings accounts. Try checking it once a day or week, but at minimum, you should be looking at it once a month. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately.
5. Don’t post password hints on social media – It sounds obvious, but don’t share any super personal information on any of your social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Doing so makes it easy for criminals to use this information and possibly open up an account in your name, or even use it to guess what your password is.
“It’s important to be careful sharing your pet’s name, your children’s names, or the name of the high school you attended, especially if you use this information as account passwords or answers to security questions,” says Lisa Robinson, a senior vice-president at Wells Fargo Internet Services Group.
“Never share your mother’s maiden name, your social security number, your bank account numbers, or your user names or passwords for any account,” Robinson adds.