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How Safe Is Online Banking?

Dec 13, 2007
Online banking has become very popular and many people are using their online capabilities to do all of their banking. Those who have used online banking are now comfortable with it have found it to be an easy and fast way to get things done without having to visit the bank. While online banking can get things done fast, many people still wonder if it is safe.

The answer to that question is yes. Yes, as long as you take a few precautions yourself.

An interesting aspect to online banking came to light recently. It seems that those who bank online have a tendency to watch over their accounts better than those who do not use online banking. The reason for this is because those who use online banking have immediate access to their account information, seven days a week. Those who do not use online banking have to rely on their monthly statement to arrive before they can check their accounts in detail.

Having immediate access to their accounts allowed those online users to see if trouble was at hand, especially in the areas of fraud and identity theft. According to MSN Money columnist Liz Pulliam Weston, "Victims of cyber crime who tracked their accounts online paid out an average of $551 per incident, whereas those who relied on paper statements paid an average $4,543 per incident."

Even with added security and ease of use, online banking should be conducted with common sense safety in mind. Here are some good tips for making sure your online experience does not go astray.

One of the most important protection measures is a good firewall. A computer firewall is simply a software program that is designed to allow authorized people into your computer data and to keep unauthorized people out of your computer data. The good news is most new computers come with firewalls already installed into the systems. If you use DSL or cable modem you will usually have an extra layer of protection. These types of internet access modems normally have their own firewalls installed in them. Those people with old computers or who use dial up modems may have to buy a separate firewall and have it installed.

The second most important issue with safe online banking or any type of online financial transaction for that matter is the use of anti-virus and anti-spy software. Most of the bigger operating systems companies, such as MicroSoft, will issue periodic updates and users should get these when they become available. Many of these updates contain fixes to previous bugs in the operating system and they can help prevent hackers from getting to your data. You can buy anti-virus and spyware software or you can find free program online. Either way, it is a good idea to keep your computer clean.

Online banking should never be conducted in a public, wireless environment. Many people like to do their banking chores while sipping on coffee at their favorite wireless café, but do resist doing that. There is software available that can pick up your information and save it to another's computer. As well, you should not do your online banking through public computers such as those at the library or internet cafes. Again, you put your information at risk by doing so.

An easy way to make sure that you are on a secure page is to look for the small icon of the lock. This is usually shown in the lower right corner of the browser window. In the address bar, look for the https prefix. That "s" at the end means that you are on a secure page. If you do not see it, you are not working on a secure page and may have been relocated to a scam address.

Use the security features you have available and your online banking will be safer and more enjoyable.
About the Author
Peter Kenny is a writer for The Thrifty Scot, please visit us at Compare Credit Cards and Personal Loans Visit Thrifty Scot
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