OLB, we love thee

Published September 9, 2016

Online banking is great.

  • No more rushing to the credit union to deposit checks because most financial institutions, including Maps, let you deposit a check by simply taking a photo and pushing “send.” 
  • No more writing checks and hunting for stamps; online banking lets you log into your account and send payments electronically. 

But banking online comes with security risks. The Federal Trade Commission, mycreditunion.gov, and the security firm Sophos suggest consumers take several steps to stay safe. 

Here are a few of them: 

 

1. Make your password strong. Not just write-down-your-birthdate-and-call-it-good strong, but Michael-Phelps-six-hours-of-training-a-day strong. That is, create a password with a mix of numbers and symbols as well as upper and lower-case letters. And swim a few laps if you’re feeling particularly powerful.

2. Change your password. Experts disagree on how often you should do this – suggestions range from 6 weeks to 1 year – but all agree users should make sure every password they use is robust and significantly different from the previous one. That is, don’t change just one character of your password every few months and don’t use the same password for all of your accounts. 

3. Update, update, update. Did we mention update? Keep your security systems by keeping your operating system and software current. 

4. Resist the urge to “click here” when you’re told to “click here.” The bad guys want to make it easy for them to steal from you, so they make it easy for you to go to their fake-but-realistic-looking site. The takeaway: If you want to go to your bank or credit union’s site, type in the address yourself. 

5. Don’t bank next to your barista. We love a good latte as much as the next hipster, but don’t do private work on coffee shop or other public networks; what you do might not be as private as you’d like. 

6. Log out when you’re done. You wouldn’t leave the front door open if bad guys were roaming the neighborhood; in the same vein, you shouldn’t leave your virtual door open to troublemakers on the Internet.