I am no doubt one of the few individuals in the world that does not have an online banking account. I just know too much. Although banks have some of the highest security measures of any industry, they are also prime targets for fraudsters, and your money is at risk with the increase of sophisticated malware and ransomware (see related article above about the SpyEye).

There are many advantages to online banking and most people are fans and make fun of me for not banking online, so this week’s tips are geared toward protecting yourself while online banking.

  • Do not share your login information with ANYONE ELSE (except for your estate planning attorney as part of your digital assets)
  • Review your bank statement frequently to make sure there are no discrepancies. If you believe there is a discrepancy, change your password immediately and call the fraud department of your bank
  • Use a complex username and password and don’t write them down. This means not using your name, date of birth of any other easily guessed or obtained information about you through social media or social engineering. Change your password frequently
  • Don’t use the same password that you use for other sites
  • Disable auto-complete features or the ability to save your password on your computer when online banking
  • Log off and close your browser when you are done banking, and don’t keep the program running
  • Be careful about which computer you use. If you are unfamiliar with the computer or it is someone else’s, it may be compromised and may not have up to date security measures
  • Use account activity alerts
  • Update security measures and patches for your computer and use a secure browser compliant with SSL standards
  • Do not download files, install software, open email attachments or click on website links from unfamiliar sources
  • Be aware of phishing and pharming schemes
  • Do not provide your username or password to anyone that asks for it via email. Your bank will not be asking for your credentials via email
  • Most banks send you a letter to your home address when you change your credentials. Open those letters when they come to your home and read what they say. Don’t assume they are marketing materials
  • If you receive a letter from your bank indicating that you opened an online account, or changed your username or password and you didn’t, contact the fraud department of your bank right away 

These are just a few basic tips. To get more information about how you can protect yourself, check out the FDIC’s Bank Customer’s Guide to Cybersecurity, FDIC Consumer News Special Edition—Winter 2016, which was just issued on March 8, 2016.

Banks and regulators are trying to prevent online fraud and theft while consumers enjoy the convenience of online banking, but they can’t do it without consumers’ help. Use these tips and stay vigilant to protect yourself from online banking fraud.