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Online banking makes it convenient to manage your finances while you’re on the go.  You can deposit checks, transfer funds, even apply for a loan without stepping foot in a branch.  But is it safe?  Yes, as long as you take the right security measures. For instance, no banking on public Wi-Fi. Here are some other ways to keep your financial accounts safe and secure.

Protect your devices

Most people don’t use a password to protect their smartphones.  Leaving your device unlocked will give a person unlimited access if it’s lost or stolen.  Use a PIN and set it to auto-lock after 30 seconds of inactivity.  Any device you use for online banking also needs to have antivirus software installed.  Good software will update automatically and frequently to protect you from the latest security threats.  Choose a program that offers identity protection, data backup and has a powerful firewall. 

Don’t let your browser store your login information

Having your accounts set to auto-login can be a huge time saver especially if you’re not good at remembering your password.  However, it’s a big security risk.  With minimal effort, anyone can get into your emails, social media and bank accounts.  It may take a little longer, but manually entering your usernames and passwords is safer.

Use hard to guess passwords

If your password is “123456”, “123456789”, “qwerty” or “password”, congratulations, yours is the same as at least a million other people.  Go change it right now.  An easy way to make a strong password you’ll actually remember is to use a phrase and incorporate a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.  The longer the password, the better. 

Enable two-factor authentication

Normally to log into your account, you just enter your username/password and off you go.  Because so many people use lousy passwords, your account may not be as secure as you think.  To take your security level up a notch, it’s recommended that you enable two-factor authentication.  This will provide an extra layer of protection by forcing you to enter another piece of information.  Usually you’ll receive a text message from your bank containing a special code for you to enter.

Recognize and avoid phishing scams

Be wary of emails asking you to confirm or update account information.  Even if it appears to be from a trusted source, it may be part of a phishing scheme.  Fishy things to look out for are generic greetings, misspellings and poor grammar.  Also, if you hover your mouse over the link, you’ll reveal the true destination. Clicking any of the links will take you to a fraudulent website where your username, password and eventually your money will be stolen.  It’s much safer to visit your bank’s website by typing the URL into your browser.

Set up account alerts

Setting up text or email alerts with your bank can make it easier to stay on top of your accounts.  You can receive notifications about your activity, upcoming bill payments and more.  If overdraft fees are eating away at your savings, we recommend signing up for low balance alerts.  When your balance drops below a specified amount, you’ll receive a warning. From there, you can transfer more money into the account or reduce your spending.

Monitor your transactions

Don’t let the fact that your bank has a fraud department give you a false sense of security.  You still need to monitor your accounts with your own two eyes.  At least once a week, take a few minutes to review all your bank and credit card transactions to ensure they are legit.  If you spot an unauthorized charge, you need to report it to your financial institution right away.