Banking online is safe so long as you consistent practice a few key things to protect yourself.

Maybe you don’t like wasting paper on bank statements or perhaps you like the self-satisfaction of checking your balances daily, whatever the reason, more and more users are opting to bank online in this increasing digitally-connected world.  As we continue to move more purchases and transactions online, we need to be aware of a few simple things to help keep our data safe.

Strong Passwords

The first step in establishing any online account is creating a strong and unique password.  This should not include your maiden name, birthday, children’s names, etc.  The best passwords are eight characters in length with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and at least one special character.  As you create passwords, do not give into temptation and write them down to slip under your keyboard.

If you have a fingerprint scanning phone consider activating this on your phone as well as for banking applications.  Many applications are now allowing you to use your thumbprint in place of a password and that’s something no one can fake.

Do Not Bank Online Using Public Wifi

Getting free wifi is great, but banking across an open platform is like inviting a complete stranger into your home.  Most other users of public wifi are just like you, drinking their coffee, not looking to steal anything, but thieves and hackers know open networks are a prime place to steal data. When using free wifi you are just waving a flag to come on over when you are in a bank portal. Just don’t do it.

Suspicious Emails

Your bank will NEVER email you asking for your password or other sensitive account information.  If you receive an email that has you even the slightest bit concerned, delete it.  If it is from your bank and you are still not sure, contact the entity directly by calling the number on the back of your debit card, on a statement or by going to your local branch. Never call the phone number listed within a suspicious email because in some cases it will connect you with the scammer, posing as a bank employee. It’s also important to think twice before clicking on any attachments or links as thieves can plant viruses and malware in both. Just because it looks like it’s from an entity you trust, doesn’t mean it actually is.

What should you do if you are a victim or think you might be a victim?

Even with safe practices, sometimes hackers can still steal your data (and your money).  If you determine funds have been stolen from your account or you suspect fraud, call the bank immediately to put a hold on your account.  If the thief has impacted more than just your bank account, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center, which offers no-cost victim assistance and advisors can walk you through any necessary steps.  You have rights as a victim; more information can be located at www.idtheftcenter.org.

Continue the conversation with us at our podcast where we speak with Eva Velasquez, President and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center.  Check out the podcast here.