Banking from the comfort and privacy of your own home, at any time of the day or night, is a major benefit of online banking. It's America's most popular banking method, with a 2016 survey by the American Bankers Association finding 55% of bank customers preferring to manage their accounts online (and another 18% preferring mobile banking).
However, the convenience of online banking is negated if your actions put your finances at risk. The following simple dos and don'ts can keep your money safe.
Don't pay substantial fees
Oftentimes, banks offer online services for free. If there is a fee, it should be minimal—or you may want to consider negotiating it away or switching your accounts to another bank.
Do choose your password carefully
Online banking is simple: You access your account by logging onto your bank's website with your user ID and a password.
It should go without saying that you should choose your password as carefully as you choose your ATM card's personal identification number, and that you should make sure your connection is secure.
Don't put your online access at risk
If you access your bank account from a public computer, like at a public library, be sure to sign out of your account before logging off. As long as you're logged on, your bank doesn't know that it's not you managing—or mismanaging—your accounts.
Do investigate Internet banks
Internet-based banks, which have only cyber addresses, are a growing banking alternative. They offer many of the same services as traditional banks, such as checking, savings, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. The fees at online banks are often low, so they may be a good option if you're comfortable banking exclusively online.
When choosing an online bank, make sure it is legitimate. It should be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, just like a brick-and-mortar bank. Look for the FDIC logo, and double-check that that the bank is insured by checking the FDIC website.
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