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Online banking isn’t even the future any longer. It’s the present. Nearly every bank in the country has an online banking option, providing everything from simple account balances to loans, money transfers, savings accounts, bill pay and more. It’s a convenient way to handle all your banking needs. However, how do you know that everything you’re doing online is safe? There are many bad people out there, just waiting for their opportunity to get someone else’s secure information. Here are some tips to help you keep your online banking experience safe and out of the wrong hands.

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You have passwords for everything these days. From your phone to your social networking pages, email and more, you probably have several different passwords to remember. While it may be tempting to use the same password for everything, that’s one of the worst things you can do. Instead, create a strong password by making a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Never use anything that can be easily guessed like birth dates, pet names, initials or anniversaries.

Security Questions

Most banks will ask you two or three security questions when you’re setting up your online account. Usually it’s questions like, “what is your mother’s maiden name?” or “what was your first pet’s name?” While those questions are very helpful to ensure security, keep in mind that you don’t have to provide the real answer. You can use anything you want to keep things secure — just be sure you remember what you used. Or, use a password keeper program so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Secure Your Computer

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While it’s super important to make sure your bank’s website is secure, it’s just as important to make sure your connection is secure as well. At the minimum, you should ensure you have a strong firewall and are running an antivirus program. You also want to run your operating system’s update program to make sure you’re running the most up-to-date security patches and software and to ensure there are no holes in your data access. Keeping things updated is another step to ensuring a secure online experience.

Beware Of Emails

You have probably already seen those fishing emails. They come disguised as emails from your actual banking institution and ask you to click a link to provide some information. It may come under the guise of needing to update their records or having an important message to deliver to you. However, no bank will ever contact you in that fashion. Those emails are always fishing to get access to your personal information. If you receive anything that looks fishy, be sure to type your bank’s web address into your browser yourself and never click on links in the email. Then you can at least ensure that you’re going to the right website.

Think About Where You Are

Many people use public Wi-Fi or even public computers to access their bank accounts. Whether you’re at the library and you want to log in to check your balance real fast, or you’re out at a restaurant and you need to transfer some funds, public Wi-Fi makes it very easy to access your bank account information from anywhere. However, keep in mind that public Wi-Fi spots can often be easily hacked, especially if the owners of that Wi-Fi don’t have it properly secured. It’s always good practice to remember to log out of your account when you’re done and never set your computer to remember your bank account passwords. That way, should your computer or phone end up in the wrong hands, they won’t also have access to your bank account.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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