A new article by Herb Weisbaum – ‘the consumerman’ – on MSNBC outlines the sharp increase in the number of users of online banking services, and cites Linda Criddle for how to stay safer when doing so.
The article references a Harris Interactive survey that found 80% of U.S. households with Internet access – nearly 70 million households –– use some form of online banking service. That’s a sharp increase of over 2 million households in the last year.
The number of online banking customers is expected to continue rising. “We predict steady growth as more go online and see the benefit of doing your banking from anywhere at anytime, ” says Steve Shaw, director of strategic marketing at Fiserv, a financial services technology firm.
At the same time, banks are shedding retail branches. On Tuesday, Bank of America announced it is closing about 600 branches. The reason? Liam McGee, president of Bank of America’s consumer and small-business bank, said part of the reason for the move is that more customers prefer online and mobile banking.
So how do you bank online safely?
Internet security expert Linda Criddle, who runs the Web site www.ilookbothways.com, describes herself as an avid online banker. She says you need to ask yourself three questions before jumping online.
- Is your computer secure? You must have up-to-date security software, which means antivirus and anti-spyware protection.
- Is your connection secure? Make sure the firewall is on. If you use a wireless network it needs to be encrypted so someone who is lurking outside the house can’t collect your information.
- Do you have a secure password? It doesn’t have to be hard to remember, just hard to guess. Don’t share it with anyone and don’t respond to any e-mail requesting that information. That “urgent” message may look like it’s from your bank, but it’s bogus. A financial institution would never send you an e-mail asking for your PIN or password. Never!
“If you’ve done all of the above, then you’re off to a good start,” Criddle says. “You can have reasonably strong chance of having only positive experiences.”
You also need to be extremely careful when you conduct banking business away from home. Your laptop needs to be secure and so does your wireless connection. Criddle recommends avoiding computers at Internet cafes.
The bottom line: Before you conduct your most sensitive financial transactions you need to be absolutely certain both the Internet connection and the computer you’re using are secure. If you don’t have 100 percent confidence – don’t take the chance.
Read the full article here.