How To Bank Safely Online

If you’ve got teens, then no doubt you’ve received the SOS texts. ‘Mum, I need a haircut, can you just spot me $30?’ or ‘I’ve just finished footy and I’m starving, can you transfer me some money?’. Where would the modern parent be without online banking? How did our non-digital forefathers ever cope??

Online banking is just so convenient and basically a necessity of modern life. If you’ve recently tried to conduct a transaction at a branch, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of my boys recently tried to set up a new account at a local banking branch and they were told to come back the following day. Instead, we went home and did it online in less than 20 minutes!

Aussie banks are world class at implementing a range of security measures to keep our banking safe however there are still things we can do to avoid our banking details getting into the hands of hackers. But many of us just assume that ‘all is well’ – our banking apps work seamlessly, so why do we need to worry? And that’s where many come unstuck. If it doesn’t appear to be broken, why do we need to fix it? Well, being ahead of the risks is how you keep yourself safe, my friends. So, here are my top tips to ensure all your family members are banking online in the securest way possible.

1. Ensure You Are Using Legit Banking Apps

If you’re changing banks or helping your child set up their online banking, it’s essential that you download your bank’s official app. Imitations do exist! Ideally, download the app from the bank’s website however if this isn’t an option use a genuine app store like Apple’s AppStore or Google Play for Android devices. And always verify the app is legitimate by checking the developer details and reading the reviews.

Budgeting or financial management apps are an incredibly popular way to help manage finances, but you need to be cautious here too as many will require you to share your banking logins. Always check the app’s reviews, its history of data breaches and its security policies before you download.

2. Ensure your Passwords are Long, Strong and Unique

Using the name of your puppy, your kids or worse still, your birthday, is one of the fastest ways of getting your banking details into the hands of hackers. Passwords need to have no connection to any part of your life, should never be stored in your banking app or anywhere on your phone and NEVER, EVER written on the back of your debit card!! Here are my top tips:

Make them long – choose a phrase instead of just 1 word. I love a nonsensical sentence with at least 10 characters.

Always include lower and uppercase letters, a number or 2 and a few symbols.

Every online account needs its own unique password – no exceptions.

Put a reminder in your calendar to update your passwords regularly – at least every 3-6 months.

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3. Say No to Public Wi-Fi

Geez, public Wi-Fi is convenient, particularly if you are travelling. But, using it to undertake any banking or financial dealings is just too risky in, my opinion. Why? I hear you ask. Well, there are many ways hackers can hack public Wi-Fi, let me share a few:

‘Evil twin’ attack. This is when hackers set up malicious hotspots with seemingly logical and trustworthy names eg ‘Free Café Wi-Fi’. But as soon as you connect, they can easily get their hands on your data.

Man-in-the-middle attack (MitM). This is when hackers break into a network and eavesdrop on data as it travels between connected devices and the Wi-Fi router. For example, your online banking password!

Password cracking attack. Scammers use software that automatically tries a huge volume of usernames and passwords so they can control the router. And once they’ve gained control, they can dupe you into downloading malicious software (that could steal your identity) or redirects you to a webpage that phishes for your personal information.

If you don’t think you can possibly survive without public Wi-fi then you need to invest in a VPN that will ensure everything you share is protected.

4. Activate Two Factor Authentication

If your bank offers two-factor authentication to its customers, then your answer needs to be ‘yes please’! Two-factor authentication or multi factor authentication adds another layer of verification to your banking which minimises the chances of hacker causing you harm. If you’ve activated it, you’ll be asked to provide another piece of information after you’ve entered your login details. Usually a special code, this may be delivered to you via an app, text message or even an automated phone call.

5. Request Alerts From Your Bank

It will take just a few minutes to ring your bank and request to be notified when an activity occurs on your account. Every bank will manage this differently, however most banks can alert you on request via email or text if the following occur:

  • Low or high balances
  • New credit and debit transactions
  • New linked external accounts
  • Failed login attempts
  • Password changes
  • Personal information updates

And if anything at all seems a little fishy, contact your bank immediately!

Unfortunately, few things are guaranteed in life and that includes your online safety. And whether you’re an online banking fan or not, opting out isn’t really an option. So, take some time to tighten up your online banking. Only use legit apps; change your passwords so they are long, strong and complex; invest in a VPN so you can use public Wi-Fi and say yes to two-factor authentication. You’ve got this!

Happy banking!!


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