New to Online Banking? How to Stay Safe

Blog posted On August 26, 2020

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers have switched to banking totally online, some for the very first time.  Online banking and bill pay makes it easy to stay on top of your finances from afar, but it may also make it easier for hackers and cyber criminals to access your private information.  Since March, 82% of seniors have started using online banking more frequently and 55% are using mobile banking apps.  Older Americans are often targeted by hackers and cyber criminals because they are newer to online banking technology and may not be aware of common practices. 

If you are someone you know is new to online banking, here are some tips to staying safe online.

Keep Track of Your Accounts

Just like with mailed statements, you should monitor your transaction history online.  Check your online banking activity regularly and make sure you recognize any transactions or money movements.  Some credit card providers offer features through your online account to report suspicious activity right away.  Find out how you can tag a transaction you find suspicious.  You may also want to set up text or email alerts so you can be notified any time your card is used.  If you get an alert about a transaction you don’t recognize, call your financial institution immediately and report it.  The sooner you report fraudulent activity the sooner your financial institution can replace your card or stop the activity. 

Support Each Other

If you have older parents or other family members who are new to online banking, build a support system around them.  Ask them if they’d like to make you the secondary point of contact on their account or if they want to share any usernames and passwords with you in case you need to access it.  You may also want to consider hiring a financial advisor or other financial professional help monitor accounts and be an advocate when needed.

Beware of Third-Party Services

Mobile banking apps like Zelle or Venmo make it easy to exchange money between family and friends.  With new apps popping up all the time, it’s important to only use third party apps that are verified and associated with your bank.  If someone is requesting payment and you have not heard of the service they want to use, suggest using an app you already know and trust.  Watch out for communication from your bank and make sure you are aware of any new launches or acquisitions so you know what services you can trust.

Review Best Practices

One of the most common ways hackers solicit financial information is through phishing emails or phone calls asking for a payment or bank account number.  They may send an email that looks like it’s coming from your bank or even use a service that “spoofs” the phone number, so it looks like a legitimate call.  If you’re monitoring your financial transactions, you should not have any surprise requests for payments or banking information.  If you receive an email or call you are suspicious about, communicate with your bank directly, do not reply or call back the number, to verify the attempt to contact. 

More and more consumers are either banking online more often or exclusively because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Digital banking services can be convenient when they are used safely.  If you have any questions about our mobile app or our digital services, please let us know.