Avoid the pitfalls of online banking

Millions of people are using online banking and are benefiting from the convenience of 24 hour access to their accounts. However, with identity theft and fraud on the increase, how many are aware of the pitfalls as well as the benefits. By banking online you may be leaving yourself open to:

1. Phishing Attacks – Where unscrupulous individuals attempt to extract your username and passwords to your accounts.

2. Spyware and Viruses – Keylogging spyware can log your keystrokes and send the results back to the originator who then deciphers them and scans for credit card information, which can then be used to create counterfeit cards.

What can you do to protect yourself?

spying graphic1. Always make sure you have up to date anti-spyware and anti-virus software

2. Ensure you have a firewall installed and turned on. Windows XP and Vista users have access to a free firewall which can be found within the Windows security centre in the control panel. Make sure it is switched on. Otherwise zone alarm is another excellent free alternative. Do not run two firewalls simultaneously as they will conflict with each other as they attempt to prevent hackers in real-time.

3. Make sure Windows Updates are turned on and set to automatically download and install any new security updates. The options for this can be found in the security centre or also within tools in Internet Explorer.

4. Never give your pin number, username or password or other sensitive information out, even if you get an email purporting to be from your bank. Banks will never ask for this information through an email, be wary of any emails that do.

5. Be wary of links in emails that may lead you to forgery bank websites. These are phishing emails trying to get you to part with your banking details. Never access your bank account by clicking on a link in an email. Either type in the proper address into the address bar or use a favourite or bookmark you have previously stored within your browser that takes you straight to the correct website.

6. Where transactions are concerned, if you are not sure you are on a secure site, always look out for a site address which starts with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’. Also, look for the padlock symbol within the browser frame itself (not on the page) and double click it to check for an up-to-date and legitimate security certificate.

7. Never give out your account registration information including your PIN, username or password.

8. Use strong passwords which are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Try and use a combination of digits and letters.

9. Don’t use the same password for numerous sites.

10. Don’t keep your PIN or password written down for anyone to see. Memorise your access data and then destroy it.

11. Keep an eye on your account statements for any unusual activities. Report anything out of favour to the bank straight away. Don’t be scared of making a fool of yourself, by being afraid of ringing false alarms. It is better to look silly than to be a victim of identity fraud.