Online Banking: Can you trust a faceless system?
Technology has moved on so much over the last few decades that you rarely need to go into a bank if you don’t want to. But how much can you trust online banking?
While some forms of online banking have been in use since the 1980s, it’s only in the 21st century that this way of managing your cash went mainstream. From using a hand held pin device to login on your laptop to new banks that are entirely online, we’ve come a long way.
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Online banking has made life a lot easier for many:
- Paperless. You can choose to go completely paperless, so you no longer receive statements or updates in the post
- Easy to check. You can now log into your online banking account whenever you want, without having to go into the bank or wait for a statement to arrive to check your income and outgoings
- In your pocket. You can take online banking one step further by using mobile banking, which is an app on your phone, which allows you to check in on your account, transfer cash between accounts or pay a bill while on the go
Is online banking secure?
When it comes to your money, you want to make sure that it’s as safe as it can be. We’re all aware that scammers are constantly updating their tactics and looking for new ways to access your accounts and swipe your hard earned money.
There are multiple ways that banks aim to secure your cash:
- Encryption. When you bank online, rather than an app, you’ll know that the website is encrypted because of the https at the beginning of the website. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’
- Timed logout. You should never walk away from your computer while you are logged into your online banking account. However, if you go to another tab and forget to close your account, you’ll be automatically logged out after a certain amount of time
- Card readers. Some banks still use card readers, which you’ll need to have to hand to log into your account. You’ll put your card in the reader and enter your pin, just as you would when making a purchase in a shop. The reader will then give you a unique passcode that you use to login to your account
- Multiple steps. Some banks use a combination of steps to access your account. This could be a text message with an access code that you need to enter, after entering your username and password
- Your personal ID. If you use a mobile banking app, you can login using your fingerprint or even your face
- Warnings. When transferring money, many banks will add in a warning step before you complete the transaction. This asks you to double check all the details are correct, so you don’t inadvertently send money to the wrong person, as well as asking you if the person or company you are sending money to is genuine
How can you protect yourself?
While all of these are great ways to protect your money, there are people who will take advantage of any little chink in your armour. So make sure you are taking full precautions when it comes to protecting your money:
- Never leave a tab open. While most banks have a timed logout, never leave your online banking open – whether you are using an app or a website. Someone could take advantage of an open account
- Never use public computers. Don’t login to your online bank account from a public computer and don’t use public wifi to access it either. Generally, we’d advise that you only log into your online bank account from home, on your own computer. If you are an app user, again, try to use it in the safety of your own home, unless you really have to use it while out and about
- Don’t trust strangers. If someone calls up and claims to be from the bank, don’t take this at face value. Remember that a bank will never ask for your pin number or for you to transfer money into another account. You can tell the caller that you will call them back and call the number on the back of your card, but scammers these days can copy numbers and will be there to pick up your call. So aim to leave a gap between hanging up and calling again, or use another phone to call the bank
- Keep it quiet. Never share your login information with anyone and when using your pin in public, make sure that no one is watching you
- Mix it up. We know, you need a password for everything these days, but tempting as it is to use the same password for everything – don’t! Have different passwords for everything you need to login to, this way, if you are unfortunate enough to be hacked, the hacker won’t have easy access to other accounts. Try to make them as complex as possible, so they’re not easy to guess
- Report anything unusual. Check your account regularly to make sure that you recognise all the transactions. Anything that doesn’t look right – let your bank know ASAP
- Be aware. We’re not suggesting that you keep up-to-date with every new scam that is invented, but if you hear of a new one, look it up and familiarise yourself with it and how you can protect yourself from it. Talk about it with your friends – the more people are educated about scams, the harder it is for scammers
Are there any particular risks for landlords?
Landlords are not at any more than the average person, but they do have a lot more to protect!
- Separate your accounts. Wherever possible, separate your rental income from your personal income. Not only does this make your life easier when it comes to tax, it also means that if one account is hacked, the other should be safe
- Know your income and outgoings. Make sure that you are familiar with what is coming into your accounts and when, what direct debits you’ve set up and when they’re due to go out, etc. You can then spot anything that doesn’t look right much more quickly and easily. Using our free Expense Tracker can help you get a handle on things
- Cover yourself. Make sure that you are covered for all eventualities. Home Emergency Insurance covers you in the event of issues in the property and Rent Guarantee Insurance protects you from missed rent payments. You might have the dream tenant, but if they get sick or lose their job or even fall victim to a scam, with RGI, you know the rent is covered
- Know your tenants. Do everything you can to make sure that you know exactly who is living in your property, including thorough referencing