With the adoption of digital financial services in the United States approaching 70%, more and more people are choosing to access their financial accounts through their PC or mobile devices. It is not only considerably more convenient, but often also a lot cheaper. However, digital adoption has caught the attention of the bad guys and there has been a seemingly exponential growth in the amount of fraud taking place in financial services in the United States. In particular the Federal Trade Commission reported that consumers in the United States lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70% from the previous year. In this article, we’ll discuss 5 tips consumers can take to protect themselves when accessing their financial accounts online.
1. Sign up for account alerts
Most financial services companies now offer email or text-based alerts as part of online banking. You can set this up by logging into internet banking. These alerts can be customized in many ways and can be periodic notifications for your account balances, notifications related to withdrawals from your account, or related to a transaction attempted on the account. The advantage of setting up account alerts is that you can monitor your account activity so that in the event of suspicious transactions or activity, you can take action sooner rather than later.
2. Enable 2-Step Verification
While you may think that a long and complex password protects your account, the reality is that there are many ways your account can be compromised. Data breaches are now a regular occurrence and companies with a breach sometimes realize that a breach has occurred much later. Therefore, your password can be compromised and you would have no idea. Two-factor authentication effectively adds a layer of security to your account. In order to login to your account, in addition to entering your password, you will be prompted to enter a code that will be sent to your phone or email. As a result, even if your password is compromised, fraudsters cannot access your financial accounts.
3. Avoid Saving Your Password Information
It is certainly not convenient to enter your username and password every time you want to log in to your financial accounts, so the temptation is to save your login details. However, doing so exposes you to vulnerabilities if your device is lost or stolen. Again, you may not realize you’ve been without your device for a few hours, which is more than enough time for someone to access your accounts and authorize transactions.
4. Be wary of incoming calls and texts
An increasingly popular method used by fraudsters is sending unsolicited text messages to thousands of users pretending to be an official message from popular financial institutions such as Chase Bank and bank of America† The messages always contain some kind of call-to-action, such as clicking on a link or calling a phone number. In reality, these messages are fraudulent and are intended to entice consumers to disclose personal information, allowing the fraudsters to gain access to their financial accounts. This has become especially popular with payment services such as Zellemainly because the number banks that Zelle . to use has grown rapidly over the years. It is good practice to be very careful about responding to unsolicited incoming calls and text messages and never to provide any personal information unless you are sure you speak to an official at your bank.
5. Do not use public computers to access financial accounts
Whether at your local library or the Apple Store, it’s fine to use public computers to just browse the web, but it’s not a good idea to use these computers to log into your bank accounts. The reason for this is that you have no idea what the security level is on those computers and if they are compromised. Public computers are available to almost everyone, providing many opportunities for malicious parties to install malware. It’s also not a good idea to log into your personal email accounts on public computers if your email has been compromised, which could provide a gateway for fraudsters to access your financial accounts.
Conclusion: always be careful
Fraud is increasing at an alarming rate in internet banking. Importantly, if someone gains access to your accounts and authorizes transactions, you may not always be able to recover the lost money.