Area of Law: Fraud
Answer Number: 1503
Online banking safetyRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 1503
Online banking is available with all major Canadian and international banks. It is a convenient, and relatively safe way for people to do most of their everyday banking. The various banking transactions users can perform online include bill payments, money transfers, wiring funds and viewing account balances and activity. Some banks also allow users to apply for loans and RRSPS, make loan payments and RRSP contributions, and apply for credit cards. Most banks charge no fee, or a reduced fee for these services.
Security by bank
All banks take great measures to ensure that their online banking services are safe and secure for the user. Encryption is presently the most effective way to achieve data security. Internet browsers use encryption to enable safe online communications and transactions between you and the websites you interact with. The stronger the level of encryption your Internet browser uses, the more difficult it is for unauthorized individuals to intercept your online activities.
Increase online banking safety
Online banking is very convenient and efficient, but those benefits come with security risks. Therefore, it is important to understand the risks and some safety measures that can be taken to increase your online banking safety. These measures are applicable for both personal and business accounts:
- Know the important terms of your banking agreements — In most cases, people do not read, or understand the electronic banking services agreements they have entered into with their bank. However, it is important to understand that these agreements create obligations on the customer with respect to using the account. For example, in almost all cases, it is up-to the customer to give the bank prompt notice for any unauthorized transactions.
- Use a unique password and change it regularly — Online bank accounts password should be strong and should not be the same as any other account. In addition, the password should never be stored on a mobile device or anywhere else easily accessible by another person.
- Remove account features you don’t use — Having features such as the ability to access multiple accounts, or to initiate transfers or send wires can make stealing from your accounts much easier for hackers, if your accounts become compromised. If you do not use these types of account features, remove them from your account.
- Only do online banking from a secure computer — The computer used for online banking should be a secure computer that has all software updates installed, is running updated anti-malware software, and if possible, is behind a firewall. To reduce the potential risks further, consider restricting the activities that the computer is used for.
- Use antivirus software — Avoid computer infections by installing antivirus, or anti-malware software. This software should help detect an infection as it is happening, or detect one that already occurred.
- Never use public computers to do banking — If you use public computers your passwords or account data may be accidentally, or intentionally stored on the computer.
- Never do banking over an unsecured public Wi-Fi network — Communications on an unsecured Wi-Fi connection, such as free Wi-Fi at coffee shops can easily be intercepted. Information from any device you have connected to unsecured networks can be hacked.
- Check your online bank account regularly — By monitoring your account activity often, you will be able to identify any unauthorized transactions quickly, and immediately report suspicious or unexplained activity to your bank.
- Set up account activity alerts — Most online banking systems allow users to sign up for notifications. You will then receive an email or a text message if there is unusual activity, or activity beyond the assigned threshold, such as a specified amount of money is withdrawn or deposited to your account.
If you discover you are a victim of fraud, it is a good idea to contact a fraud recovery expert for advice.
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