When’s the last time you stepped foot in a bank? Yeah, I can’t remember either. It’s so easy to do everything online that I can’t see going back to physical banking much, even after the pandemic.
If you’re banking via your computer or phone, do it the smart way. It only takes a few minutes. Assume you will be hacked and take these six steps to make sure your money is safe.
For extra security, I recommend setting up a Chromebook that’s reserved just for online banking and bill paying. They’re affordable, tough to hack, and super easy to use. Tap or click for my top Chromebook picks.
You’ve also got to watch out for the biggest mistake people make when they deposit checks from their phones.
Have you ever done this?
In theory, depositing a check via your smartphone is as easy as following a few steps:
- Open your mobile banking app.
- Sign in to your account and select Deposit Check. You may be asked to choose which account you want to deposit to at this point.
- From there, take a photo of the front and back of your check. Make sure to keep a steady hold on your phone or tablet — you don’t want any blurry numbers.
- If you haven’t already, choose the correct deposit account.
- Enter the amount written on the check. (This step could come sooner, depending on your bank.)
- Confirm the details and select Deposit. Confirm everything, and you’re good to go.
That’s when you’ll get a message saying your check is processing. But it would be best if you didn’t immediately write this off as done — there’s still more to do.
TECH HOW-TO: Online banking isn’t the only new thing we’ve picked up during the pandemic. Tap or click for the steps to make phone calls right from your computer.
Watch for checks that haven’t cleared
It’s tempting just to upload your check, then shred it or toss it out. After all, you may think, “Now that’s over and done. Time to move on to bigger and better things!”
Not so fast. Your check will take some time to clear. Of course, there are a few different factors to consider:
- The check amount
- How long you’ve been with the bank
- The status of the payer’s account
Usually, checks clear pretty quickly. But you want to leave yourself enough time to make sure you get your money. That’s why I recommend waiting for two weeks until you trash a check.
SPEAKING OF SECURITY: Yes, you’re being tracked. Yes, there’s a lot you can do to stop it. Tap or click for 5 steps you can take right now.
Set a reminder for 14 days from now
Once you’ve deposited a check through your banking app, head to whichever app you use to set reminders. I go with Google Calendar, where I keep track of all my meetings and appointments. Here are 12 tips and tricks to help you stay organized if you use Google Calendar, too.
Pick the date two weeks from the day you uploaded the check. Now, it’s time to stow your check in a safe place.
Why go through the extra steps? Imagine you get a check for $500. You upload it to your app and throw the hard copy away when you’re done. In a worst-case scenario, the check bounces, and you have no way to prove the money should be there.
That’s where that handy reminder comes in. After two weeks, you’ll get a digital nudge to see if the check has gone through.
Make sure to shred the check once you’re done
Now that more Americans are using online banking than ever before, you’ve got to watch your money like a hawk. Get this: 91% of Americans banked virtually in July, according to a recent study from DepositAccounts.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals know that and there are more threats than ever when it comes to your money. Here are a few final words of advice.
- Always use two-factor authentication. This step adds an extra layer of protection between your account and someone looking to break in. Set this up in your banking app.
- Never set up auto logins on your banking apps. Set your app to require your password, fingerprint, or another login method every time you open it.
- Secure your phone with a strong password. This is a no-brainer and the easiest way to protect everything on your phone from thieves and snoops.
- Never bank on public Wi-Fi. You never know who could be looking in. Your best bet if you’re banking away from home is using a VPN.
Nowadays, we’re all trying to stay safe — physically and financially. A few extra steps are well worth the effort if it means protecting your wallet.
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