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How To Be Safer With Your Online Banking

This is pretty much an ever growing topic. With the recent security breaches we have seen and the level of victims of identity theft, people are scared. The only reason that not every single person has an online savings account is the security topic. Online banks know this and taking super fast actions to make everyone feel more secure. Here is a basic overview of the things you can do to make yourself more secure.

1. Be wary of e-mail notifications- never respond to e-mails that ask for personal information.

2. Never hand out vital information to someone who contacts you- never give out your birth date, Social Security number, or driver's license number.

3. Monitor the computers you use to access your account- A. Don't access your account from high risk locations or high risk computers. Here is a quick article on that: Where Not To Access Your Account From B. Keep your Operating System Updated- Run Windows Update or Apple Update at least once a month. This will protect you from Spywar e/ Malware to some extent. C. Use an Antivirus Program and a Good Firewall. These help keep out the bad guys. Run at least a weekly antivirus scan and make sure your firewall is always live when your online.

4. Use strong passwords- Always use a strong password that consists of the numbers, letters, and when available special characters. Avoid the obvious such as birthdays, street addresses, and children's names. If you will use a date is a date that is special to you that no one really knows of.

5. Make sure the bank you are signing up with is legit- Rule number one, always know who you are giving you money to. With the vast increase in phising scams many scammers are even setting up entire web sites that say they are actual bank that offer an awesome rate.

 

6. Review the Security Practices of the Bank you choose- The main thing you are looking for is how does this bank allow you to access your money and what layers of security do they use to stop third parities from viewing that information. Look for SSL encryption (The little lock and key icon) used everywhere and anywhere on their site. Any bank that does not use 128-bit SSL when ever you are passing private information to their is not a bank you want your money in. I have to say as I review a lot of these online banks, I find that about 1/4 of them have areas of their sites that do not use SSL. Are they kidding us? Another thing to look for is methods of entry. Some banks just require a username and password. So two little pieces of information will give a scammer complete access to your account. That's not an account you want. You are looking for unique filters such as requiring you to register a computer or a picture password. I have to say I love the banks that I get locked out of with 2 false logins. Now that's security!

7. Look for Bank Guarantees- Many banks in addition to offering a 100% guaranteed refund of funds that are stolen from you will also guarantee to monitor your credit for fours following such a security breach. This type of guarantee tells you they are serious about your business.

Why Online Banks Actually Make Me Feel More Secure

I have been using online banking, in some capacity, for about 9 years now. I never had one problem ever. I actually feel much more secure than I did in previous years. I feel more secure than offline banking.

Here are the real reasons:

1. Speed-

If I find an inaccuracy or fraud committed against me, I will catch within 1-2 days as opposed to the old wait for the statement to come method (30-35 days).

2. Guarantees-

Every online bank I have an account with guarantees my money, if someone steals it. Even if my computer is filled with Malware and Key Logger software. They take a zero-liability approach. If I was held up at an ATM, off runs my cash. Not all banks are required to refund your money under all circumstances.

3. Security is taken seriously-

Have you ever written a check at a local department store? You hand the check to a 15-year old.... They then jam it in a drawer that can be opened with a pencil... You just intrusted your checking account number and routing number to some one who doesn't even know what those numbers mean. Most online banks are being forced by the government to consider this information vital.

 

Protecting Your Personal Information

Some people make a full-time job out of identity theft. It is definitely very lucrative. Victims of identity theft are caused years of hardship due to identity theft. Theives now know that your credit is much more valuable then any money you have on you.

How do we protect ourselves, simple:

1. Monitor your credit report with the three agencies.

2. Shred all finanical information that leaves your house. Actually I burn it year round.

3. Protect your social security number.

4. Avoid all bait and hooks. If something comes to you that looks official, call them right away looking up their number in the phone book. It's a sad truth.

What if I believe I am a victim of identity theft?

1. Put fraud alerts on your credit profile with all 3 credit bureaus.

2. Review your credit report and alter/close the accounts that you know or believe have been compremised.

3. File a local police report or FBI report, if you are referred.

4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Comission.

5. Apply for a new social security number.

Once these steps are taken, you have stopped the leak and now just have to fix what hass been broken.

The numbers on Identity Theft in the U.S.:

1. The average identity theft victim is taken for $4000.

 

Where Not To Access Your Online Accounts From

Even though you use every security procedure known to man on your computer, you might need to access your account away from your home/work computer. If a hacker takes control of a public access network or is monitoring traffic on that network, you could be taking big risks.

Here are my top five places to never access your online accounts from:

1. Airport Wi-fi

2. Libraries

3. Franchise Hot Spots

4. Tradeshows

5. Schools

These are prime targets for network packet theives. Surf the web at these locations, but for god sake never access any account or transfer any personal information over these networks. The security at most of these locations is loose at best.

Keeping Your Computer Safe

While we all wish the Internet was the safest city in the world, in reality, there are tons of trap doors. Common sense will protect you from 99% of all threats you could come in contact with.

Here are the common sense tips:

1. Never provide any information to anyone who calls you out of the blue-

Over the years most people consider this very basic.

2. Never provide any information to anyone who emails you out of the blue-

It's a huge surprise to me that most people would not deem this very basic common sense.

3. Do not click on any links or emailed to you out of the blue unless you were expecting it-

Remember the days when people would send you a virtual ecard? Now a days, I don't open the email and delete. I then call my friend and say to them, "Have you run your antivirus program lately or have you been hacked?"

4. Do not download or open any files that are emailed to you, unless you were expecting them.

Here are some programs you must have and use regularly if you are going to bank online:

A. Firewall-

A firewall blocks your computer and an outside computer from communicating unless you allow it to. This stops crackers and hackers from being able to attack you. There are many great firewalls out there. Honestly, this software changes so often that I read reviews of them prior to purchasing. In the past I hated McAfee, they over hauled their software and now it's one of the best out there. So my advice is unless on that one.

B. Antivirus-

Antivirus software basically scans your computer for threats. The better Packages are made by Norton and McAfee. The only reason I say they are better is because they constant update their virus definitions.

C. Ditch Outlook Express-

Outlook Express is the most popular email client on the planet. Guess what software virus writers target? It's great software, but I'm not going to put myself at risk like that. I like Thunderbird by Mozilla.

How Do Firewalls Help Me?

Firewall software acts as a barrier to keep your computer safe from outside computers. Firewalls monitor all information and patterns of information flowing between your computer and the Internet. If something meets the criteria of the filters it is blocked. If you do not have a firewall in place, your computer is accessible by anyone via the Internet.

Firewall software acts as a barrier to keep your computer safe from outside computers. Firewalls monitor all information and patterns of information flowing between your computer and the Internet. If something meets the criteria of the filters it is blocked. If you do not have a firewall in place, your computer is accessible by anyone via the Internet.

Firewalls protect from:

1. Remote Computer Use- A hacker just using your computer like it's their own.

2. Becoming a Spam Hostage- Hackers will use your computer to send out email.

3. Email bombs- A person will not be able to send thousands of the same message. This would clog and crash your email box.

4. Application Monitoring- The hacker can see exactly what you are doing on your computer as if it it were his/her own.

 

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