Online Banking

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Has your bank invited you to try online banking? The ads tout features like faster bill paying, less paper clutter, 24/7 availability to your account—and security.

Ah, yes, security, the elephant in the room and perhaps the one reason you haven’t signed up yet. After all, you’ve heard the news reports about hackers accessing bank accounts. Yet you still long for the convenience of online banking. What to do?

While no system is fail-safe, you can take steps to keep your money secure. Here are tips.

Practice good offline computer security. Keep your antivirus, antispyware and firewall protection updated. Protect against malware by updating your operating system and web browser, too.

While you’re taking care of routine computer maintenance, back up your banking records, either at an online site or to a removable disk that you keep safely in a location away from your computer.

And speaking of banking records, you’re reviewing them on a regular basis, right? Keeping tabs on your account is the best way to spot scams before they get out of hand.

Something else to keep in a safe location away from your computer: Passwords and PIN numbers.

Practice good online computer security. Guard your wireless network by using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). Both types of encryption will protect you against hackers, so be sure this security feature on your wireless router is turned on.

When you’re ready to access your account, type your bank’s web address directly into your browser instead of using links, and double check the address before you log in. When you’re done with your transactions, be sure to log off the site.

Oh, and those passwords and PIN numbers that you’re storing away from your computer? Make them strong. A combination of letters, numbers and symbols longer than eight characters is the standard recommendation.

Online banking can be a timesaver. With a little vigilance, you can enjoy the benefits while minimizing the worry.

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