As a consumer, one of your biggest worries might be identity theft and fraud and rightly so. Criminals and thieves are becoming more and more advanced everyday. There are a number of risks involved in online banking, but these are progressively lessened with advances in technology to combat identity theft and fraud. Here’s a look at some of these technologies and what you can do to keep your money safe.
The Risks Involved in Online Banking
Online banking is one of the great conveniences of the Information Age. It allows you to pay your bills from the comfort of your own home, transfer funds, and keep an eye on your balance. Free checking accounts can make it even easier, since you don’t have to pay for your account; but with this convenience comes risk.
While Internet banking itself is extremely secure, consumers fall prey to criminals all the time, usually through phishing scams. Such scams involve spoofed emails that trick consumers into providing sensitive login and financial information to these thieves. More advanced thieves have spoofed product packaging, rebate offers, and other official-looking items.
What the banks are doing to protect you
Because it is the bank’s job to keep you and your money safe from thieves, they are constantly developing and implementing technologies intended to combat cybercrime. For many of us, some of these technologies seem light-years ahead of our time, but they work.
- ATMs of the Future – Banks are now using biometrics at the ATM to combat fraud. The technology here goes beyond simple fingerprint scanning, since prints can be easily lifted and copied. Some of today’s ATMs actually identify consumers using infrared scanners on the irises and fingertip capillary patterns.
- Crime-Fighting Cellular Phones – There are a number of apps and services that can help identify and block fraudulent financial transactions all through the cellular network. One fraud control application can actually pinpoint a person and determine if the transaction is legit or not.
- Mobile Alerts – Sure, the bank can send a text if it sees an unusual transaction, but there are other kinds of alerts as well. You can have your bank or credit card issuer send you an alert anytime a transaction is made. This way, you know exactly what’s going on.
- Traditional Measures with a Twist – Banks are now using highly secure and controlled base paper for their checks and other documents, which are highly mimicked by criminals. This goes beyond the watermark. In fact, such documents are produced and issued in highly controlled, secure environments.
What You Can Do
The technology the banks are using is quite effective, but there are some simple steps you can do to help stay safe. Here are some simple tips that can mean the difference between falling victim and staying in control of your money:
- Never share your online banking PIN number or password.
- Always type in the bank’s web address – don’t click a link within an email you receive.
- Be aware of email scams and phishing attempts. If you suspect one, ask the bank directly.
- Make sure your Internet browser and computer operating system is secure and up-to-date.
- Use a firewall.
- Get the most recent anti-spyware and anti-virus software.
- Be vigilant!