In recent years, the advancements in digital banking have made managing money on the move as easy as checking your email. However, with that flexibility comes an increased requirement for security. The days of visiting a branch to manage money are long behind us, and the banking industry remains at the forefront of online security. Nevertheless, there are plenty of steps to take to ensure you are always ahead of the game when keeping your money safe, no matter where you keep it and how you choose to manage it.
- Take Advantage of All (Free) Security Features Your Bank Offers
The rise of challenger banks has seen increased security across bank accounts thanks to new features and options. While traditional accounts are not always best-positioned to deliver these new options, security remains paramount, and new opportunities become available all the time.
This could be as simple as blocking or activating a card within the mobile app. Such functionality feels commonplace today but was unheard of even just a few years ago. Some accounts go a step further, enabling customers to block certain transactions automatically. Some require additional verification before making a payment or offer adjustable payment limits depending on the correct password entry. Options for the security-conscious are plentiful, and the chances are if something is not available on your account, a competitor will have everything you require.
- Utilize Device-Based Security Options
For those genuinely interested in the security of their bank account, opportunities extend beyond the banks, their website, and apps. Unauthorized account access is not always down to the bank itself and can often involve a compromised device. Cybercrime rarely targets individual accounts – bank-level security is often far too robust. Instead, a would-be attacker takes advantage of the fact that consumers prefer quick, easy access to their accounts.
If you primarily access your accounts through a web browser, then firewalls and antivirus software are a must. Many mobile devices are even more secure as standard, requiring fingerprints or facial recognition. These security measures represent a crucial tool in the financial security arsenal, and it pays to take advantage of added levels of security beyond the banks themselves.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Banks often go above and beyond conventional security measures. Whereas many online services settle for a username and password, logging into an online account usually involves a customer number, password, and some personally identifiable information.
For those who choose to do so, there is an additional layer of protection available in two-factor authentication. Some banks offer this as standard, whereby customers will receive an email or SMS with a specific code. Where such a feature is unavailable, it is often possible to utilize a third-party service such as Authy, which adds 2FA over and above standard login procedures.
- Close Accounts You No Longer Use
Many people are hesitant to close accounts due to the potential impact on their credit score. However, the effect is often minimal, and, in terms of security, shutting them down completely can make the most sense.
The issue with dormant, potentially forgotten accounts is that they contain potentially harmful levels of personally identifiable information. In rare cases, if an unscrupulous operator can verify ownership of one account, which the customer has forgotten about, they may have an easier time of accessing another.
Empty or unused accounts should be a high priority for closure, as doing so means less to keep track of on the part of the customer and fewer potential backdoors to personal information.
- Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report
Credit reports are an excellent way to not only assess eligibility for loans and mortgages but to keep track of open accounts. Anyone that is lax with their browsing data can be subject to identity theft, enabling others to open accounts in their name. This may not result in a direct financial loss but can make obtaining credit products more difficult in the future.
Anyone in the US is entitled to a free annual credit report covering data held by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These reports will reflect all financial accounts in an individual’s name, enabling them to keep an eye on the information held on them and spot any issues.
Financial institutions sit at the forefront of online technology, and some organizations do more than others to ensure that their customers’ money and data remain secure. However, it is essential not to rely solely on their security protocols when managing your money as an individual. The additional available steps are quick, easy, and can soon become part of a day-to-day habit. Ultimately, protecting accounts is a team effort between financial service providers and customers, and the steps above will ensure a vastly reduced likelihood of anything untoward happening.
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