With more and more of us managing our money online, these are the all-important details on how to keep it safe.
Gone are the days when you had to take a trip to the bank to check your balance or transfer funds to another account.
Thanks to new investments in fintech (financial tech), we can easily check our balance and transfer funds on the go. And with the rise of new digital-only banks such as Monzo and Starling, you can even set up a bank account with just a few simple clicks – last year, Monzo cards were used over 177 million times.
But with the fast pace of these advancements, it can sometimes feel like security can take the backseat. Have you ever stopped to wonder how secure your online banking passwords really are? Or what could happen if someone gained access to your account?
Just like you wouldn’t scream your PIN number out loud when you’re walking down the street, you need to ensure hacking your bank account isn’t as easy as combining your pets name with a simple “123”. By taking the time to implement these simple steps into your online banking routine, you’ll be making sure your money stays safe.
1. Use a password manager to keep your details safe
It’s easy to get into the routine of using the same password for every account under the sun, but if you do, you could be putting your money at risk. Think about it for a second: if someone gains access to your Instagram profile, that gives them a free pass to all of your accounts - including your online banking.
And the same goes for using passwords which are easily guessed. It may be easy to remember, but using the title of your favourite book for you password makes it pretty easy to work out - especially if you’re accustomed to sharing that kind of information online where anyone could see it.
To give yourself peace of mind, you need to use a password which is extremely difficult to guess - but may be hard for you to remember. That’s why using a password manager is your best bet: it means you can use a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation to form a complicated password, but you don’t need to worry about remembering it.
Internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari will even generate passwords and remember them for you, making the process relatively easy and pain free.
2. Use a separate account for online payments
With online scams getting more and more sophisticated, it’s harder than ever to trust that the website you’re shopping with online is really legitimate.
To eliminate that unnecessary stress - and keep your money secure - consider using a separate account for all your online payments, so that if someone does get access to your bank account, they don’t have access to all of your money.
And if you don’t fancy setting up a new account and getting a new card, you could always use a digital wallet such as PayPal to give yourself that extra level of security.
3. Regularly check your accounts
One of the luxuries of online banking is being able to check your funds whenever you want to - and doing so could save you a lot of hassle.
It shouldn’t take you long - take a minute or two during your commute each day to go through your accounts and review your recent purchases, and investigate any transactions you don’t recognise straight away. Doing this regularly will give you peace of mind, and will also allow you to keep track of how much you’re spending.
If you’re the biggest threat to your financial security and let your spending run away from you sometimes, using a digital-only bank account such as those offered by Monzo and Starling allows you to get notifications when you spend, and lets you take a look at your spending habits long term.
Ignoring that dwindling balance is no longer an option!
4. Use safe Wi-Fi networks
Public wi-fi networks may be great for our monthly data usage, but they’re not so great for our online security.
Ever logged into the wi-fi on public transport and quickly checked your bank balance? Your data may be at risk.
That’s because many public wi-fi networks are unencrypted and often not protected by a password, meaning it’s super easy for hackers to intercept your personal data and gain access to your account and log-in details. To keep yourself safe, only manage your money online via wi-fi networks you know and trust.