How to Stay Safe When Banking Online
As banking has gotten more convenient, it's also easier to fall prey to fraud.
Banks are constantly working to keep you and your hard-earned money safer. Unfortunately, a fair amount of fraud can still slip through the cracks, to no fault of the financial institution. According to a study from Javelin Strategy and Research, 13.1 million Americans fell victim to financial fraud in 2015, a 3 percent increase over the previous year. Although the total amount of money stolen through bank fraud has been on the decline since 2010, Javelin and other security experts agree that consumers aren't doing all they can to protect themselves. In fact, many don't even have the bare minimum security basics covered.
"As banking has gotten more convenient, it's also easier to fall prey to fraud."
Banking presents bigger risks
Only a few years ago, the majority of financial fraud suffered by individuals came from credit cards. With new EMV technology, among other developments, credit card fraud has been significantly reduced, according to Javelin. Still, basic vulnerabilities persist among millions of Americans who unwittingly make themselves easy targets.
One of the biggest drivers of fraud is our love of convenience. According to experts who spoke with USA Today, banking fraud has gotten easier as banking itself has gotten more convenient. With more ways to access your account come more ways for criminals to do so against your will. That's why consumers can take the first step toward financial security with some basic tech pointers:
- Update apps and OS: Many of us enjoy the ability to access bank information from our phone, but we invite fraud by not following easy guidelines. One of the easiest ways to help protect against all types of hacking or cyberattack is to keep phone software and apps updated. With the latest version running, it's less likely a criminal will exploit a weakness in the system.
- Wi-Fi worries: Connecting to the Wi-Fi has become as automatic as taking your hat off while indoors used to be. While you may have ditched the fedora, criminals have taken notice of our love of Wi-Fi. When you access a public network - usually one that's not password protected - it could make you vulnerable to a security breach. Make sure not to access your bank account or use personal passwords when connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot. To be as safe as possible, just wait until you get home.
- Password protection: Keep your password up to date and make it as strong as you can. Regularly updating your essential passwords to something you've never used before will make your accounts harder to crack.
Don't fall for it
Hacking into someone's computer or phone is possible, but usually quite complicated and thus fairly rare. It's easier for criminals to fool you into handing over a password instead.
One of the best ways to fight this type of fraud, known as "social engineering," is multi-factor authentication. If this sounds complicated, don't be alarmed. Many popular websites and most banks allow you to use at least two-factor authentication to sign in. The first factor is usually a simple password, while the other may be a code texted from your phone. With these two factors necessary to log in, it's much harder for a thief to gain access to your account by simply guessing your password. According to Bank Info Security, multi-factor authentication can drastically reduce the risk of fraud.
The more nefarious scammers will call you and pretend to be someone you trust, whether it be a police officer, government official or even a family member. If someone calls you demanding payment or insists there's an emergency, the Federal Trade Commission recommended doing your best toverify they are who they say they are . In almost all cases, calls from people claiming to be IRS agents or something similar aren't legitimate. A request to wire money or add it to a prepaid debit card should be another red flag.
One of the best ways to reduce the incidence of fraud is to let others know about the risks and protections. Spread the word about updating passwords, multi-factor authentication and how to avoid common scams. This is yet another way to ensure everyone stays safer.
For more information on the banking experience at Vectra, talk to the professionals at Vectra Bank.