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What guidelines should I follow for online banking?

As the saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And what may seem like cumbersome details and paranoid practices can become those ‘little things’ you regret when you have been scammed or your personal identity has been compromised. Here is a list of ‘little things’ you can do to keep yourself safe:

Create and Maintain Strong Passwords and PINs

  • Don’t ever share your password or write it down.
  • Make your passwords more secure by using the following combinations:
  • Use a combination of letters and numbers. Typically, use a password that is at least 8 and not more than 20 characters, and use upper and lower-case letters.
  • Do not use any obvious information as a password: zip code, year of birth, phone numbers, address, relative’s name, pet’s name or nicknames. And never use personal information, such as your Social Security number as a password.
  • Do not click on the “Remember Me” option and avoid using password managers.
  • Use individual passwords for each site.
  • Change your passwords every 30 to 60 days.
  • Choose to protect your other electronic devices such as tablets and phones from unauthorized access with passwords as well.

Practice Safe Computing

  • Avoid using public computers when conducting any online banking transactions.
  • Do not have multiple browsers open while banking online.
  • Never leave your online banking account open while your computer is unattended.
  • Always sign out (log off) after your online banking session and close out of your browser.
  • Do not share any of your banking information to any other party or website.
  • Consider using a dedicated computer for daily online banking activity.
  • Disable file sharing software to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your computer.
  • Be cautious about accessing sites if you are online through an unsecured or unprotected network.
  • Never use your debit card for an online purchase through a free Wi-Fi network. It is too easy for hackers and scammers to log on and steal your data.
  • When banking and shopping, check to make sure the site is security enabled: look for the web addresses with “https:// or shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information: “http://” is not secure.
  • Clear the browser cache and history before and after you make online banking transactions.

Safeguard your Personal Information

  • Never share any personal information such as: name, Social Security number, driver’s license or identification card number, bank, credit cards, or debit cards account numbers; mother’s maiden name, security codes, access codes, passwords, Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), or any other information that allows identification and access to your account(s).
  • Examine your financial statements and/or account activity on all of your accounts: First Entertainment’s, credit cards, and investment statements on a monthly basis.
  • Dispose of any sensitive documents by first shredding them.

Debit Card or Credit Card?

Debit cards offer a viable solution for many of us who don’t like to carry a lot of cash or don’t want to be tempted to run up the balance on our credit cards. However, it isn’t the right tool for every transaction.

  • Ditch your debit card when shopping online. When your card is lost or stolen, credit card users are protected by the Truth in Lending Act that protects you from liability for any debts if you report your card has been lost or stolen before unauthorized transactions are made. And if you notify your financial institution within two days of realizing that your card has been lost or stolen, according to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, you could be liable for only $50.
  • Here are other places not to use your debit card:
  • Rental or security deposits: Because the business will take the money out of your checking account, the money is just “frozen” but not actually charged and you won’t ever notice that it’s gone.
  • Restaurants and bars: When the waiter takes your card from you and walks away, you have lost total control of your card’s safety. It’s better to use cash when dining out.
  • Businesses love to transition one payment on your debit card to a regular electronic fund transfer. It’s better to use a credit card so that if there is a dispute, the business won’t take the cash right out of your checking account, and you can bring the support of the credit card company to bear in disputing inaccurate charges.