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Posted on November 27, 2014 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

Do you bank on the go? Maybe you want to start, but you’re concerned about online banking security? You aren’t alone. More than a third of Americans say they hesitate to make the leap to mobile banking because they fear identity theft. And, considering that 72% of the mobile phone market is smartphones, a security breach could affect a large swath of consumers.

Should you abandon your phone and tablet and return to pen-and-paper banking? That’s not necessary. More than 51% of Americans say they’ve taken their banking online, and you can join them. But before you start banking from your couch or while you’re waiting in line for your morning coffee, you have to make sure you’re doing it as securely as possible.

These are the top five most recommended online banking safety tips:

  1.  Create a strong password. We say this so often, we could put it on our mission statement. Using a name, birthdate, or other easily decipherable phrase as a password will make it really easy for hackers to gain access to your accounts. Passwords should be unique to each account, contain numbers and symbols, and be difficult for hackers to determine. Some banks will allow you to set up reminders to change your password every few months to ensure that it stays secure.
  2. Use a secure connection. This is another thing we often repeat, but we do so because it is incredibly important: not securing your home WiFi connection leaves it open for criminals to hack into your network to steal your information. It is critical that your wireless connection is secured with a password before your open or access an online banking account. Balancing your accounts via your laptop or mobile device at a Starbucks (or another shared WiFi) isn’t secure, so it is not recommended.
  3. Don’t click through links sent via email. If your bank is requesting your authorization for something, you should call the number on the back of your card to provide it.
  4. Set up account notifications. Many banks have begun utilizing technology that will send you a text or email if there is unusual activity on your account. This is one of greatest advantages to online banking, and should not be overlooked.
  5. Log out when you’re done. No matter how secure your connection is, failing to log out of your account may provide a loophole for criminals to gain access. Many banks rely on technology that will log people out after a certain time spent “inactive,” but it is always better to be safe and do it yourself as soon as you’re done. Remember, if you are on your phone, make sure that you have closed down all open windows and apps when you have completed your transaction.

And, as always, monitor your accounts for unusual activity. Here at IdentityForce, we work to take the burden off your shoulders by providing monitoring and recovery services. The truth is, we just can’t predict the next security breach. But we can work with you to provide alerts that will help you stop the bad guys before extensive damage is done – so you can bank, shop, and game online with a little more peace of mind.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Yuri Samoilov.