Is online banking safe? Read how to keep your money safe in the digital space.
Online banking and banking apps have revolutionized banking in ways that only a decade ago would have been unthinkable.
Today, you can instantaneously send money virtually anywhere in the world from a mobile device that fits in the palm of your hand. You can also deposit checks to your free checking account, access statements, pay bills on the go, or access a card-free ATM.
Amidst all this welcome convenience and empowerment, however, a single question continues to be asked: is online banking safe?
And the truth is there are vulnerabilities with digital banking. The good news, however, is that despite the risks a wide array of best practices and tools—both individual and institutional—are at the disposal of consumers who strive to keep their money safe and secure in the digital arena.
Here are answers to a few of the most common online banking security questions.
I bank online at home and on-the-go with the Fifth Third mobile banking app. What can I do to keep my bank safe?
If you have a Fifth Third Momentum® Checking or Fifth Third Momentum® Savings account, then you already have access to Fifth Third Identity Alert®, a comprehensive identity theft protection and insurance for you and your family.
If you don’t have identity theft protection, there are still a number of things you can do to keep your financial information safe online.
- Your password needs to be strong.
That means using a combination of characters, numbers and symbols. Add even more protection by using a passphrase or multiple words strung together to form a sentence. Be sure you’re using different passwords for each of your accounts and change it every two to three months. If you use a password manager to store your passwords, you can check out apps that can automatically change your password for you and save it to your password manager. Another option is to set up biometric protection on your device using Fingerprint and/or Face ID.
- Be mindful of phishing schemes that try to trick you into sharing sensitive information or disclose credentials.
Never click on a hyperlink or open an attachment from an unfamiliar sender. If you have any doubts, you can even call the person who supposedly sent the email to verify that he or she was the source and that you’re not the target of email spoofing.
- Use anti-phishing software that helps identify phishing content in email and websites.
In addition to monitoring and blocking browser traffic for phishing websites, it offers capabilities such as checking header information to ensure that the email is from a legit sender.
- Last but not least, don’t ever use an unsecured wireless network for reviewing your financial information or making a transaction.
Free public WiFi services that don’t include a lock icon next to their name likely don’t have the security you need. One other way to be assured that you're on a safe network is to subscribe to services that identify certified hotspots.
I’ve just signed up for a digital wallet using my bank’s debit or credit card. Do I need to take steps in addition to most of the ones above to stay safe?
There are many, many digital wallets out there—Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay among the most well-known. On your end, using two-factor authentication to unlock your phone is a wise step to take in case of loss of theft. And to echo the above: Do not add cards to your digital wallet when you’re using unsecured wireless networks.
The banks that issue major mobile wallets take precautions against most security threats on your behalf, including two-factor authentication, authorizing transactions with a one-time unique dynamic security code, and employing a virtual account number to represent account information.
I’ve been hearing about cardless ATM services. Should I be concerned that I'll face the same threats as when using regular ATM cards?
Because ATMs have been wildly popular since the 1980s it is easy to forget that initially, consumers harbored concerns about whether a machine could be trusted to handle their money and information. And while those fears were clearly and definitively set at rest, these days the threats are more sophisticated: Take "skimming," for example, a technique in which hackers wielding counterfeit readers scan and store all the information on an ATM card’s magnetic stripe while spy cameras view the ATM keyboard and record PINs.
Having cardless access to ATM machines at banks offers a solution: No card, no magnetic stripe from which to copy static data, and, thus, no opportunity for skimming. Built-in smartphone security such as Fingerprint ID further helps prevent fraud. You can get cardless access to any Fifth Third ATM.
How can Fifth Third keep me protected as I take more advantage of mobile and online banking services?
We can protect you with the following apps and services:
- Our Automatic Alerts service contacts you via email and text message whenever suspicious activity is detected on your account. If you did not make a flagged transaction, we will shut down the account for your protection and send you new cards.
- You can receive alerts through our mobile banking app as well, which, in addition to security messages, can also be set up to send bill payment reminders or low balance warnings.
- Now Balance allows you to check your balances quickly, so that you can identify any problems right away.
- A Fifth Third digital wallet includes secure services from our participating digital payment partners, such as tiered security systems.
- The safety provided with cardless ATM services is available to you at any Fifth Third ATM.
So feel free to empower yourself with mobile and online banking. You'll get the benefit of security and convenience.