Monitor accounts online
The beauty of online banking and other online accounts is that you can monitor them almost in real-time. That means you can catch crooks long before a statement arrives in the mail.
Here’s how to shield your money and your existing accounts.
- Create strong passwords and user IDs, change them frequently, and don’t use the same ones for all your accounts. These steps make it harder for criminals to steal the virtual keys to your accounts and limit the damage they can do if they crack your code. Learn more here.
- Pay attention to security alerts that inform you about possible data breaches. It is a good idea to change your password if you have reason to believe that your information has been compromised.
- Keep your antivirus software up to date. The technology environment is constantly changing and antivirus software can quickly become obsolete.
- Use different passwords for each of your accounts, including email, website logins, social media, etc. If one website gets hacked, your credentials are still safe across all of your other accounts.
- Consider using a password manager, which generates and stores long, complicated passwords.
- Monitor your credit reports and credit score. Thieves can use your information to set up new credit cards in your name with a fake address. This means you’ll never receive bills, so your first clue that something is amiss may be a credit score left in ruins by unpaid bills or delinquent charges on your credit report.
- Explore putting a lock or a freeze on your credit reports compiled by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Both a lock and a freeze block access to your credit reports, making it highly unlikely that anyone could open a credit card in your name. Learn more here.
- Don’t ignore your snail mail. Make sure you aren’t receiving unsolicited credit cards or collection notices for products and services you never purchased.
- Exercise caution when clicking on websites and emails. Thieves have become experts in forging the look of legitimate sites.
- If you typically do your banking in person at a nearby branch, consider creating an online account. You’ll be able to closely monitor account activity and spot breaches quickly. You could also prevent a thief from opening an account in your name.
- Get account alerts. Alerts will notify you about activity on your account. Reviewing alerts immediately can protect against fraudulent activity on your account.
- Don't use your account on an unknown computer. Unless you are sure a computer is secure, be wary of using an unknown computer. Computers can record pages viewed and keystrokes entered among other possible security violations. Granted, this will not be your experience on most computers, but be careful.
- Check your last login date. Always check this date to ensure someone else is not using your account.
- Register your computer. Not only will this make logging on to your account quicker, it reduces the chance that the answers to your security questions will be compromised.
- Enroll into e-statements. Receive your statements electronically. Paper statements can divulge your financial information if stolen from your mailbox.
- Review account activity. Review your online accounts for any transactions you did not initiate. Early detection may prevent large losses.
- Don't use your computer at work. Even if it's on your lunch hour and on your own time, employers can monitor computer usage and even typing (although most don't). While your company might not care how much money is in your accounts, those who are paid to monitor Internet and email use will also have access to this information. You can use your computer at work, just be aware of the risks.
- Shred or securely store your paper bank statements. One of the advantages of online banking is that your records are stored securely online. However, if your financial institution sends you monthly statements about your account or another account you have with them, be aware that these statements can include log-in information as well as account numbers that can be used to access your account. You should shred these documents when you are done with them or store them in a secure place.
- Understand security and online banking. You have taken a good first step by reviewing the information on this site and this list of security measures that you can take, but make sure you continue to be aware of the security measures your financial institution employs.
- Don’t give out vital data like Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, or one-time security codes to strangers calling over the phone. If you think the call may be legitimate, ask for the person’s full name and a number to reach out to them later.
Here is an example of a common scam designed to access your online accounts:
- You receive a call or text message from someone claiming to be from your financial institution's fraud or security department.
- If it's a phone call, caller ID displays your financial institution's number (because it's been spoofed to match). Text messages may direct you to call your financial institution at a different number.
- They alert you about possible fraud or suspicious transactions on your account. (You don't recognize these because they're made up.)
- They ask for multiple pieces of verifying information, like your mother's maiden name, Online Banking user name, or password. (Financial institutions don't call and ask multiple identifying questions.)
- They may tell you there's been unauthorized online access to your account and they need to verbally verify your online password. (Financial institutions would never ask for your online password.)
- If they don't get the password, they ask numerous security questions. (They use the answers to gain access to your account.)
- When our online fraud prevention system asks for additional verifying information, the fraudster will ask for that, too.
- They tell you they're sending a one-time security code so they can "assist in resetting your account information." (The code is actually sent from your financial institution as a security measure to protect your account from unauthorized access.)
- They ask you to read back the one-time security code "they just sent you." (Your financial institution would never request one-time security codes verbally by phone.)
- Don't share the code! If you provide this code, the fraudster has full access to your account. They can set up a transfer and drain the funds within minutes using digital payment services in Online Banking.