Keeping Your Money Safe Online

Posted on: May 17th, 2010 by

Dealing with Your Bank - FInancial Plan - Rockville, MDWhen you access your bank account online, you probably don’t think that at that very same moment, there could be a hacker somewhere, waiting to steal your information and your money.  Despite banks’ efforts to protect accounts from online theft, this is still proving to be a serious problem.  More banks were robbed online last year, than were in person.  One of the biggest threats to consumers are banking Trojans.  They are invisible and can steal multiple types of data, including passwords.  Some more advanced types of Trojans can make fraudulent transfers and drain your account while you are logged on to the account online.

The more questions and passwords you are asked to enter in order to log in to your account, the safer your bank’s website is.  If your bank only asks you to enter a username and password, like Wachovia, to enter its website, you are not entering a tightly secured site.  Other banks, like Bank of America, require customers to create a username, a site key name using a personalized picture, and a password.  It has been recommended that banks require customers to answer personalized questions before granting access to their site, but as you can see, not everyone is taking heed.

In the event that you become a victim of online theft, act quickly and know your rights.  The general rule for consumer checking and savings accounts is the bank is liable for most of the damage, as long as you report the illicit transfer in a timely manner.   But if you have a line of credit account or a business account, you need to be extra careful, because the bank will not always be obligated to pay for your loss.  Business accounts are the most vulnerable to online hackers and the least protected by the law.  Why would a criminal want to go after a smaller personal account when they can go after a six-figure business account?

You need to protect  yourself the best you can from these attacks.  You can not always rely on the banks’ websites to do that for you.  Make sure you do not access your account from a shared computer.  You never know who will be coming in behind you.  Be sure your computer has anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware programs, including security software with automatic updates.  Also, if you are using wireless service, check the settings to make sure your connection is encrypted.  Don’t connect to your account using a public network, like the ones you find in coffee shops.  Always review your statement regularly and carefully (although, you should be doing this anyhow to be fiscally responsible).  And finally, always, always, always, log out after every session.  Don’t leave the window up and let it time out and don’t just “X” out of the screen.  Keep yourself and your finances safe but being proactive and aware of the dangers lurking out there.



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