Your bank account security is more important today than it’s ever been. Online and mobile banking allows customers to conduct complex financial transactions from their personal computers and mobile devices. Although technology provides unprecedented convenience, it has also created new security vulnerabilities that banks did not have to deal with before the internet era. It’s now not enough for banks to provide the most secure electronic banking tools to customers, but customer also have a role to play in securing their bank accounts. Even when financial institutions invest in the most secure electronic banking tools, there are aspects of electronic banking security that only the customer can control. Let’s explore some of the online and mobile banking security tips and tricks that you, as a customer, can do to keep your bank accounts secure:

Strong password: Create a strong password for your bank account. Ideally make your password twelve characters including lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters such as “%#*<>”. Don’t use common dictionary words, and if you do, combine a few words together. “Dog, cat, and car” are bad words. Make your password difficult to crack, and most importantly change it as often as you can.

Two-factor authentication: Other than just entering your username and password, an additional security step, such as entering a security code you receive by instant text message or a phone call from your bank, can significantly improve your bank account security. If you conduct many of your banking activities on a computer or a mobile app, make sure the financial institution you do business with has an online banking tool with two-factor authentication capability.

Keep your computer or device secure and up to date: a malware could potentially collect personal information from your computer and send it to hackers. Oftentimes malwares make their way into a computer due to inadequate protection. To prevent this from happening, make sure your computer software is up to date, especially the antivirus. An up-to-date Antivirus will likely detect newer and more sophisticated malwares. Also, hackers tend to exploit existing software vulnerabilities to gain access to your personal computer. Keeping all the software on your computer updated decreases the chance of having security exploits that hackers can take advantage of.

Beware of phishing scamsPhishing is a social engineering tactic used to lure a victim into divulging information such as their social security number, username and password. Victims of phishing often receive emails that appear to come from a legitimate source, such as their financial institution or a credible, well-known company containing a link that redirects to a fake website when clicked. They may be asked to verify or provide their account or personal information on this fake site which will then be used to gain access to the victim’s bank accounts or confidential information.

Here are three things you can do to protect yourself against phishing scams:

  1. Do not click on links that you find in an unsolicited email. Even if it looks like it is coming from your bank. Scammers often use links to put malware on computers or, as discussed earlier, to point victims to fake websites. Call your bank first and ask if the email is legitimate.
  2. Always talk to someone at your bank prior to conducting any kind of online financial transaction with an unsolicited individual or business.
  3. Educate yourself about these kinds of activities. The more you know about them, the more likely you will be able to quickly detect what is a scam and what is legitimate.

People everywhere, even in Maine, become victims of phishing scams and other social engineering tactics. Keeping scammers and hackers out of your finances by monitoring your accounts regularly and contacting your financial institution with any questions or concerns regarding your account security.