Banking these days can be both exciting and terrifying. Not a day goes by without some gory tale from someone who has been swindled out of their life savings. The internet has made it possible for people to bank on the go. Almost everyone now has access to their bank account on their phone or on their computer. These devices allow you to transfer money and make purchases, among other activities. The challenges lies in ensuring your safety while banking online. That’s because there are people out there who have made it their job to swindle others out of their life savings. So, how do you protect yourself in this rather terrifying environment?
How to protect yourself while banking online
The good news is that there are a number of steps that you can take to make sure that you do not lose money to thieves while banking online. If you follow the tips that are given here, you will never have to worry about the safety of your account. So, what should you do to protect yourself from online banking fraud?
Don’t fall prey to phishing
The surprising this is that a large number of people who fall victim to online banking fraud do not do so at the hands of sophisticated hackers. Most people lose their cash in phishing attacks. If you have an email address, chances are high that you will have come across this kind of attack at one point of the other.
What usually happens is that you get an email telling you that your long lost aunt in Slovakia or in some other country has sadly died. You are told that you have been identified as the only surviving relative; so you need to give the sender of the email certain details to enable them to transfer to you the millions of dollars that you have inherited.
Because of human nature (greed), a lot of people fall for this. The thing to note is that if it appears to be too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true. Nobody is going to give you money just like that. Never mind the fact that you don’t actually have a long lost aunt in Slovakia. So, for your safety, don’t open suspicious emails and don’t accept suspicious offer that you get in your inbox.
Have a strong password
These days, banks go to serious length to ensure that their customers remain safe while transacting online. One line of protection that you need to take seriously is your password. It’s true that passwords can be a hassle, particularly considering that the average human needs to have so many of them. Most people just end up using weak passwords that are easy to remember.
You should never do this. The good news is that most banking portals will not allow you to choose a weak password. In general, what you need to do is to make sure that your password is a mixed bag of letters, numbers and symbols. If you do that, it becomes really difficult for anyone to brute force their way into your account.
Use two factor authentication
Two factor authentication means that you no longer need just your password to get into your account. On top of that, a code is sent to your phone or to your email address. You then need to enter this code in order to sign in.
In today’s world, two factor authentication is becoming more and more common, particularly in relation to banking. From a customer’s point of view, the whole thing may appear to be rather cumbersome and needless. However, this method of logging into your account adds a layer of security that makes it impossible for someone who has somehow acquired your password to log in.
Have a password on your computer
Again, this online banking safety tip is testimony to the fact that much of the fraud that happens out there happens in a not too sophisticated manner. Most people keep their login details saved on their browsers. So, imagine if someone were to get hold of your computer today.
How exposed would you be? That makes it necessary to have a password or PIN on your computer. Make it as strong as can be. The overall goal is to prevent anyone from gaining access to your desktop in one way or the other. Should your computer get stolen, a strong password will force the thief to wipe the device clean. That’s a better option when compared to losing you banking details.
Update your device
One of the greatest failings when it comes to online banking safety measures is the fact that so many people out there neglect to update their computers and phones. Another point of weakness is that so many people out there use pirated versions of Windows and other Operating systems.
These pirate copies cannot be updated. But why is it important to always update your computer? Microsoft and other OS manufacturers periodically release patches that are designed to plug vulnerabilities in their software.
The same applies with drivers on your phone and on your tablet. Updates are always being released that prevent your device from being hijacked. So, it’s important to stay up to date to make sure that you don’t become a victim of online banking fraud.
Sign up for SMS notifications
Almost all banks in the world now offer SMS notifications to their clients. It’s the same situation when it comes to banking in South Africa, the UK, the US and elsewhere. A lot of these banks also offer in-app notifications.
What happens is that the moment a withdrawal or transfer is carried out on your account, you get notified via SMS. That’s important as a safety measure because it gives you the opportunity to monitor in real time what is happening in your account.
If someone has somehow gotten access to your account and if that person starts transferring money, you will be notified. You can then quickly reach out to your bank to have your account frozen. Doing this reduces your potential loss.