Is online banking safe?

Is online banking safe?

The pandemic ushered in a host of new trends — we’re looking at you, Zoom hangouts and round-the-clock pajamas. But it also changed the way we do our banking. If you weren’t already banking online before the lockdown, chances are you fully embraced it soon after. By 2022, nearly two-thirds of Americans were managing their finances on their phone or computer, according to Statista.

However, strong security and fraud protection remain a primary concern for savers, especially when it comes to using an online bank or savings account. In fact, respondents in a 2021 Raisin survey said safety was more important to them than no fees or an attractive interest rate.

Fortunately, safety is also a top priority for banks and credit unions — and an area in which they’re investing heavily. Today, thanks to cutting-edge technology and sophisticated monitoring techniques, online banking is widely considered safe. Let’s take a closer look at how financial institutions are securing customers’ financial information and some ways you can improve safety when banking online.

Ways banks keep online accounts secure

Financial institutions and online financial marketplaces like Raisin have a number of methods and tools they can use to protect customers and their online accounts. Here are some common ones:

Multi-factor authentication: If you’ve ever logged into your bank account and were asked to provide your password and PIN, then you’ve experienced multi-factor authentication. This common, effective computer authentication method requires customers to provide two or more forms of identification, such as a password, PIN, a token code, or security questions (like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is your high school’s mascot?”).

Fraud monitoring: Fraud monitoring services are used by many banks, credit unions, and online platforms, including Raisin, to protect customers. Typically, this involves using a program that flags any unusual account activity, which the bank, credit union, or platform then verifies with the account holder. During this time, the financial institution may decide to temporarily decline card transactions, restrict access to online accounts, or prevent online payments. If this happens to you, rest assured your financial institution will work quickly to restore your access and resolve the issue.

Firewalls: Firewalls are a security mechanism that help block unwanted traffic or traffic from unsafe sources. Translation: They can help keep hackers and malware from infiltrating your bank or credit union’s network. Raisin, for example, uses web application firewall advanced internet protection technologies to protect our customers and their data from botnets and denial of service attacks (DDOS).

End-to-end data encryption: Hackers can try to steal account numbers, passwords, and other personal information. To help protect your sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands, financial institutions turn to special end-to-end encryption software. The software converts a customer’s information into a string of unreadable code before transmitting it over the internet. The data is protected during transit and is only able to be read when it reaches the financial institution.

Automatic log-out: If you step away from your computer or phone during a transaction, don’t be surprised if your bank automatically logs you out after a period of time. It’s one way to help prevent others from accessing your online accounts.

Common risks of online banking

Online baking is considered to be secure. That said, there are some risks you may want to keep in mind. 

A common one is phishing. These scams can take any number of forms, though they often arrive via text or email and usually include a link to click on or attachment to open. Though the message may appear normal, in a phishing scam, when you click on the link or attachment, you may unwittingly install a virus on your device. This virus could gather up your personal data quickly, quietly — and all without your knowledge.

The fact is, phishing scams can be difficult and tricky to spot. A good rule of thumb is to never click on a link or open an attachment unless you know the sender. If you’re not sure whether a message is legit, you can call the bank and ask whether they sent it to you.

Though less common than phishing scams, viruses are another potential risk of online banking. You may be vulnerable to a virus if your bank doesn’t use secure software.

How savers can protect their accounts online

Banks and digital savings platforms play an important role in keeping savers’ online accounts safe, but customers can do their part, too.

Avoid banking over public WiFi. To bank safely when you’re on the move, always use a secured network. (Tip: Secured networks require a password when you sign in.) If only public WiFi is available, consider holding off on your banking until you have access to a secured network.

Pick a strong password. Aim for long, complex passwords that contain a random mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and characters.

Choose a bank or credit union that will keep your account secure. When deciding where to put your savings, research whether the bank or credit union invests in security features and tools like the ones listed above. To find that out, you can check its website or call your local branch directly. You can also ask about certain designations like SOC 2, which can provide a degree of reassurance that necessary information security measures are in place to protect your funds and your personal data. Raisin is SOC 2 certified and invests in technologies including multi-factor authentication, encryption, and web application firewall advanced internet protection and monitoring to keep our customers’ data and privacy secure.

Use an official app. You can download it either from a trusted app store or from your financial institution or platform’s website. Be sure to conduct your mobile banking through the app, which can be more secure than a web browser.

Enable multi-factor authentication. Sure, having to input additional credentials means an extra step or two when you’re logging in to your online bank account. But it can make stealing your financial information that much more difficult.

Sign up for text or email alerts. Keep a close eye on your account by signing up for alerts via text or email from your bank. You can be notified right away whenever there’s a large transaction made on your account or when your balance falls below a certain amount and funds need to be moved around.

Though online banking isn’t 100% risk-free, banks, credit unions, and digital savings platforms like Raisin use a variety of high-tech, sophisticated security measures and tools to help make it safe for customers. And savers can do their part to further ensure their financial information — and their money — are protected online.

A secure savings solution

Raisin's online savings marketplace makes it possible to sign up for accounts at multiple federally insured financial institutions through a single secure sign-up process.

The security of your information and privacy remain our top priority. With data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and web application firewall advanced internet protection technologies, we are invested in an array of cybersecurity technologies to keep your data and privacy secure.

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