Is Handling Your Finances Online Safe?
Handling your finances online is as safe as any other method. Identity theft happens just as often with bills that are sent using traditional mail, public purchases, and ATM withdraws, as it does online. Handling your finances online allows you to check account balances, transfer funds, make deposits, make payments, and review important financial reports from the comfort of your office, home, or mobile device. This helps users save time, since they never need to physically make as trip to the bank.
Almost every major bank allows you to manage your banking online. Most of the well-known banks are even introducing useful mobile apps for your smartphones that can make it even more convenient. When you choose to bank online, you will have access to your accounts all of the time, not just during banking hours. You can also achieve this same benefit for your business by using a customer invoicing application or an online accounting provider.
Here are just a few ways you can handle your finances online:
- Verifying your transactions and check your account balance
- Transfer funds from one account to another
- Set up account update alerts for text or email messaging
- Pay your bills online
- Make deposits using innovative smartphone apps
- Manage your bookkeeping using an online customer billing application
- Create and email invoices using online invoicing software
Make sure that you only use secured computers and mobile devices to conduct your sensitive banking transactions, and never click a random link that has been emailed to you from an unfamiliar source. Login into the application or type in the address yourself. When you are finished with your banking or billing, be sure to completely log out of the program.
Is all of our online information really safe?
Unfortunately, there is nothing that is completely safe anymore, but there are precautions you can make that will ensure that your online financial management activities are as safe as they can be, possibly even safer than using an ATM. It starts by being aware, vigilant, and precautionary.
Here are some steps to protect your information:
- Only use websites that you have personally confirmed are secure and reliable. Look for the lock icon and/or a web address that begins with “https://” (the “s” stands for secure). This is not a guarantee, but it is a good indication that it is a secure site.
- Use unique passwords that contain at least eight characters, combining letters, numbers, and symbols. You should really choose a different password for every account, and never use the same password for financial accounts that you use to unlock your computer. Hackers can quickly obtain your computer’s password and then use it log into all of your accounts.
- Change your passwords frequently and don’t ask sites to remember your password for you.
- When you’re finished using any financial site, make sure to log out of the account.
- Keep your computer secure with an internet security software program. I have attached a link to an article that covers many of the more popular options, Best Internet Security – Top 10 for 2013
- Never reply to emails or pop-up windows that ask you to update your security information. Your bank, credit card, or investment firm would never ask you to do that.
- Always keep in mind that any offer that appears to be too good to be true probably is.
As long as you do everything you reasonably can to secure your computer and financial information safe, the benefits of managing your finances online will outweigh any of your safety concerns. The cost and time savings alone makes it worth it, especially since it is actually easier for someone to swipe your mail than it is for them to get into your financial accounts.