Banking is so easy in 2017 that you can do it without ever stepping into a brick-and-mortar branch. While popular institutions like Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo offer comprehensive smartphone apps and websites, banks such as Simple (it’s all in the name) and Ally don’t even have brick-and-mortar locations! You can deposit and withdraw money, scan checks, transfer funds, pay bills and manage finances without ever leaving your house.
But with convenience comes risk, and today’s thieves are especially focused on online finances. Any system accessed via a username and password is prone to theft if you’re not careful. But there’s good news, you can make sure your finances are secure with just a few simple steps. Here’s how to put a virtual vault around your finances:
Beware of ATM Skimmers
This one doesn’t involve an app or website but can be a nightmare if you fall into the trap. Thieves will outfit ATM’s with skimmers — a device that goes over the card reader to capture your debit or credit card’s data. They look like authentic ATM card slots so they are hard to see. The best way to test an ATM is to lightly pull at the slot to see if it comes loose (but not so hard that a real one breaks off). It’s also better to use your bank’s official ATM as third-party machines are more vulnerable to this trick.
Also Beware of Bank Emails
Hackers will use a tactic called a “phishing scam” to trick you into voluntarily handing over data with a fake email that appears to be from your bank. Remember that no bank will every ask for private information over email and to carefully check any links that appear to open your bank’s website — this could actually be a fake website setup to capture your login information. When in doubt, call your bank to make sure (but don’t use any phone numbers used in the email).
Protect Your Identity
Identity theft is a serious problem, with or without online banking. But when thieves have access to your social security number, home address, date of birth and more, they can easily find their way into your bank accounts and open lines of credit under your name. Keep those bits of information private with a service like Lifelock, and only use them for forms and services when it’s absolutely necessary.
Don’t Bank Using Public Wi-Fi
Thinking about checking your account balance at Starbucks? Think again. It’s very easy for hackers to get a peak at your passwords and banking activity if you’re checking under a public Wi-Fi network, commonly used at coffee shops or at the airport. When it doubt, turn off your phone’s Wi-Fi and use the cellular data service to open your accounts.
Use Two-Factor Authentication (TFA)
Even if thieves do get their little hands on your password, there’s another layer of security to prevent them from accessing your accounts. TFA combines something you know (your password) with something you have (your smartphone) to create the most secure way to login to your bank account. When you enter your password, usually for the first time on a new device, that service will send a special code via text message that will grant you access. This way, thieves have no way to access your accounts unless they have both your password and your smartphone (which should also have its own 4-6 digit passcode).
So be safe my sweeties! Blessings!