Scam of the day – June 3, 2016 – How safe are you doing online and mobile banking?

Just about everyone does some or all of their banking and bill paying through their computers online and more and more people are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to do their banking and bill paying as well.  Not only can electronic banking be fast and convenient, it can also be safe if you take the proper precautions.  Unfortunately, many people do not take the proper security steps necessary to protect themselves when doing online banking on their computers and even fewer people take important security steps when doing their banking and bill paying on their smartphones and other portable devices leaving them in serious danger of having their bank accounts hacked.


Here is a list of important steps you should be taking to make your electronic banking more secure.

  1. First and foremost use a strong password which is one that contains capital letters, small letters and symbols.  Simple and common passwords even when they are encrypted can be cracked relatively easily through the use of sophisticated computer programs.  A good way to pick a strong password is to take an easily remembered phrase as your password.  For instance, you can use the phrase IDon’tLikePasswords as your base password.  Add a couple of !! at the end of the password and you have a strong password.  Since you should have a unique password for each of your accounts, you can adapt this base password for your banking account by merely adding a couple of letters to designate your bank at the end of the password so it may read, for instance, IDon’tLikePasswords!!BnkoAm.
  2. The answers to many security questions used by banks can be easily obtained either from public data bases or from the information that you may unwittingly post online in social media.  A common banking security question is your mother’s maiden name.  A good way to make this a strong security question is to use a nonsensical answer that only you will remember as the answer.  Thus the answer to the question could become “Pomegranate.”  It is silly enough for you to remember, but impossible for a hacker to guess.
  3. Use dual factor authentication by which when your bank account is being accessed online or through your smartphone, a one-time code is sent to you to use to access your account.  Surprisingly, some national banks such as Citibank, PNC Bank and TD Bank do not provide the option for dual factor authentication.
  4. Install and maintain with the latest security updates anti-malware and anti-virus software on both your computer and your portable devices.  Too many people do not use security software on their smartphones and many people do not update their security software promptly.
  5. When using a portable device for electronic banking do not use public Wifi. Instead use a Virtual Private Network which will encrypt all of your electronic communications.  A good VPN is CyberGhost which can be downloaded for free using this link.
  6. Password protect your smartphone and other mobile device and don’t store sensitive information on your mobile devices.