In honor of National Protect Your Identity Week, Bank of American Fork is offering consumers tips to protect their identities–and their money–when banking online.
1. Use a secure browser. Check that your browser is compliant with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) standards by looking for the small padlock at the bottom right of your browser window and a URL that begins with https (“s” for “secure”). This ensures your private information is scrambled to prevent unauthorized access.
2. Use secure e-mail. Private information submitted using an SSL-secured website is protected, but information sent through unsecured e-mail is not. Avoid sending sensitive information, such as account numbers, through e-mail unless you know how to encrypt the message. Instead, contact your bank using e-mail options within online banking or call the bank on the phone.
3. Be wary of phishing e-mails. These may appear to be from your bank but are really from criminals trying to lure you to a fake website to get your personal information. Never click on embedded links if you are suspicious; instead, type the URL directly into the browser or contact your bank to verify the authenticity of the e-mail.
4. Watch out for fraudulent websites. Always check to see that you have typed the correct website address for your bank before conducting a transaction. Beware of copycat websites that deliberately use a name very similar to that of a real financial institution in an effort to trick you into disclosing personal information.
5. Beware of pop-ups. Watch out for sudden pop-up windows asking for personal information or warning of a virus. This is called “scareware” because it frightens people into providing information or downloading malicious software.
6. Keep up with security updates. Make sure your computer has virus protection and is current on security updates. This will help detect and prevent malicious intrusions.
7. Log off and close your browser. Since browsers cache, or store, information that has been entered or viewed during secure connections, it may be possible to view personal information after you close the session. This is especially important when using a public or shared computer. You reduce this risk by logging off the online banking website (not just clicking the “X” in the top right corner of the browser) and exiting your browser. You may also consider clearing your disk and memory cache (methods vary for how to do this depending on browser type, but usually include adjusting your Internet options).
8. Choose unique passwords. Online banking passwords should be unique, ideally using a variety of letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use part of your name, birthdates or other phrases that are easy to guess.
9. Don’t save passwords. Do not have your browser automatically save your online banking password. This makes it easier for a cyber thief to access your account, especially if they know your username.
10. Verify the bank’s insurance status. To ensure the bank—and your money—is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, look for the FDIC logo or the words “Member FDIC” on the website. You can also verify your bank’s insurance status by ensuring they are listed on FDIC’s Bank Find search tool.