The internet has made banking easier than ever. The days of standing in line waiting for a teller to call you to the window are long gone.
These days, you grab your phone and open a banking app to complete any number of transactions. You can check your balance, transfer money between accounts, apply for credit accounts, and even deposit checks through your phone. Tap or click here to avoid one common online banking mistake.
But online banking does come with risks. As with anything connected to the internet, there’s always the chance for hackers and scammers to get involved. That’s why you need to be proactive in protecting your finances. Here are three mistakes that could put your money at risk and ways to avoid them.
1. Banking on public Wi-Fi
In the early days of smartphones, most mobile plans came with a set amount of data you could use each month without paying extra. That got many of us in the habit of trying to find free Wi-Fi to connect to when out and about.
Some would sit at a coffee shop for hours to take advantage of its free Wi-Fi. Airports, bookstores, shopping centers, hotels and more are places you can connect without worrying about going over your data limit.
Unfortunately, this is a terrible practice regarding cybersecurity. Free Wi-Fi systems open to everyone do little to nothing to protect your privacy. Cybercriminals know this and use free Wi-Fi networks to find victims.
If you connect to public Wi-Fi without taking precautions, thieves can steal login credentials to any account you sign into while on the network, including your bank accounts.
That’s why it’s critical to avoid free public Wi-Fi. But if you must connect and have no choice, don’t do it without a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows you to browse the internet while keeping all of your sensitive information encrypted. This helps hide your online credentials and your IP address.
But you can’t trust just any VPN. There are plenty of free VPN services out there that were created to rip you off. Using one of those VPNs doesn’t protect you at all. That’s why you must use a VPN you can trust. We recommend our sponsor, ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN acts as a proxy, which lets you mask or change your present location and surf the web anonymously, no matter where you are.
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2. Using an email address for two-factor authentication
Where possible, you should always use two-factor authentication (2FA). The technology is an extra layer of protection that prevents others from accessing your online accounts.
When using 2FA, you need a secondary way to prove who you are before logging into an account. For example, you’ll enter your credentials when signing in, but you’ll also be asked to provide an authentication code. You can get the code through SMS text, an email or an authentication app.
But you should never use an email address to receive a 2FA code. That’s because email addresses can easily be hacked. If a cybercriminal has access to your email account, they can also get your 2FA codes sent there. That’s why it’s best to use an authenticator app to receive 2FA codes.
An authenticator app generates one-time passcodes every 30 seconds. The code expires after just half a minute, so if someone manages to get a hold of it, it won’t work after that time has passed. You don’t need to provide a phone number to the app, which is unique to your phone.
Tap or click here to learn more about authenticator codes from Google and Microsoft. Scroll to section two for all the details.
3. Not reviewing your banking statements
How often do you go over your bank statements? If your answer is less than once a month, you could be funding a scammer’s second house in the Hamptons. You must examine every last cent taken from your bank account to ensure each transaction is legit.
If your credit or debit card information has been stolen, it can even be put up for sale on the Dark Web. Cybercriminals use stolen banking cards to buy stuff online and drain accounts.
A global crime ring believed to have started in Russia was recently exposed. It used clever schemes to trick people into ripping them off. Tap to click here for more details on this devious scam.
Scams like these are why staying on top of your bank statements is crucial. Log in regularly to verify every transaction. If you find anything suspicious, report it to your bank ASAP.