Electronic banking – what’s the worry?

There’s no doubt that Internet banking is amazingly convenient. 24 hour access, the ability to download all your statements directly into software packages on your computer (like Quicken or Excel) in order to track your finances, and the capacity to see your payments laid out on the screen (unlike phone banking) makes Internet banking highly attractive. Bill statements can also be delivered electronically, cutting down on paper waste and time spent opening envelopes. It’s also a useful tool for those who find it difficult to get out of the house.

However there are again possibilities for fraud. Understanding the points where your information can be accessed is important in your decision whether or not to use Internet banking.

Once again one of the weak links is your account number and password. Do not leave this information near your computer or store it in a file on your computer.

Another concern is hacking. Some software can be surreptitiously installed on your computer that records the keys you press, including your password and account information. To avoid this you may want to look into installing firewall software, or ensuring that the firewall protection available in some operating systems (like some versions of Windows) is turned on.

A third area of concern is phishing, a scam where an unscrupulous party sends you an email that looks like it comes from your bank, directing you to a website where you enter your information. Always log into your bank account from the website address you were given by your bank – not by clicking on any links in email.

In brief, electronic banking carries risks, just as using credit cards or even carrying cash carry risks. But once you understand the basic issues, it’s your call to make.

On guard: a layman’s guide to cyber safety
Protecting your good name
Protect yourself against identity theft

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