Staying safe when banking online

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Online banking can be very convenient – it can save you trips to the bank, make it easier to pay others and help you keep track of your money. However, there are also risks to be aware of and this blog will highlight these and give you tips on how to avoid them.

The Risks

There are numerous risks that you should be aware of when banking online. With plenty of jargon floating round online, this section aims to explain the risks in more simple terms.

  • Phishing emails – These emails are scam messages from untrustworthy sources that are sent to thousands of people. They may pretend to be from your bank or credit card company and may ask for passwords, financial details or personal details. You can find out more about phishing emails in our guide on e-mail safety.
  • Malware – This is software that is created by hackers to disrupt computer operation, or gather sensitive information. If this software gets onto your computer it may be able to send false information to your bank, or create false fields, such as ‘enter your password’ that you fill out unknowingly.   
  • Identity theft – If you get a virus on your computer, your identity may be taken by criminals and they can access you bank details or personal information that is stored on your computer.

Tips on safe banking

Whilst these risks sound scary and may make you apprehensive about banking online, there are many ways that you can protect your identity and information:

  • Never disclose passwords or personal information – Your bank will never ask for passwords or your PIN number over the phone, via email or letter. If you speak to the bank you may have to prove who you are, such as providing part of an account number, postcode, or answer a security question, but never personal details directly.
  • Type your bank’s website address – Only ever visit your bank online by typing in their web address or using a bookmark you have created. To ensure you are on a secure site, type ‘https’ before the web address. This way you can avoid accessing insecure or fake links that may be a security risk.  
  • If in doubt, contact your bank – If you are worried that someone has used your details or has contacted you and you don’t think it is officially from the bank, contact your bank right away. Banks have large departments that work on fraud and hacking and will check your case.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software – Keeping your anti-virus software updated is crucial to keeping your online accounts secure. Take a look at our page on keeping your computer safe for more information.
  • Avoid public computers – When possible, use your personal computer in your own home to do your banking online. This is the most secure as there will be no strangers around that could potentially see your screen and your details will be on your computer only. If you need to use a public computer, make sure to never store your details to the computer, and log out before leaving.