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Is it safe to bank online?

Banking online – you know it’s so much easier, but is it safe? You’ve read about cyber crimes, identity theft, and all those other frightening stories of online banking gone wrong. It’s hard not to worry, isn’t it? So how worried should you be?
It’s a good thing to be concerned, because those stories are true. If you aren’t careful while banking online, you could be a victim of cyber fraud. Here are some tips to prevent it from happening.
Be cautious with your password: Your password is vital. Ensure that you don’t write it down anywhere obvious (especially not on a slip of paper in your wallet), share it (even with a close friend) or store it on your PC (especially not at work). Also watch out for bystanders who lean over your shoulder while you key in the characters. It goes without saying that you must not have the same password for all your cards, and that you must keep changing passwords frequently. Ideally, use one with a combination of numbers and letters.
Avoid public servers while banking online: You need to ensure that all your online banking transactions happen from the confines of your home or office. Install and update your virus protection and firewall software regularly. Read in detail the data protection act and privacy policy of your bank. And remember, when your PC goes for a routine service so does all the information on it! So be careful to avoid storing banking information unencrypted. Password-protect such files with an alphanumeric password that’s at least 8 digits long and is a mix of upper and lowercase letters.
Don’t reply to mails requesting personal information: Do you receive mails that ask for your bank details as part of an ‘update’ process? Avoid them like the plague, then call your bank and check whether they sent you an enquiry mail. More often than not this happens because of what is called ‘phishing’. If you’re not sure, don’t click on the link in the mail. Instead visit your bank’s regular website (where you usually transact), login and update information there as needed. And remember – your bank will never ask you for your password. That’s to be known only to you and you alone.
Offline Care: Remember to shred and discard all confidential mails that you receive from the bank through the post. These could include statements and other confidential information. You never know who is rummaging through your garbage to extract this information and using it to access your online banking account.
Have you had an unhappy experience while banking online? Has it been smooth sailing so far? Tell us what you think of online banking in its current avatar. Is your bank doing enough to protect you?
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