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Safe Online Banking

Recently, a major national bank disclosed that a hacking attack left more than 3,400 online accounts experiencing losses totaling up to $2.7 million. Criminals are targeting banking websites every day, but banking corporations are fighting back with substantial resources dedicated to staying ahead of hackers. Savvy customers are fighting back too, by getting smart about common tricks and traps criminals are using to gain access to Social Security numbers, financial data, and other sensitive information. Next time you log in to your banking site, remember the tips below so online banking convenience does not come at too high a price.

Phishing

Phishing uses bogus emails and faux banking websites to swipe your information.

  • Make sure you carefully spell your bank's web address when navigating to the site. Hackers take advantage of typos and misspellings in site URLs, such as Wacovia.com rather than Wachovia.com or BB&T.com rather than BBT.com.
  • Never follow an e-mail link to connect to your banking accounts, even if it appears to be from your bank; thieves can craft malicious hyperlinks that arrive in your inbox as innocuous-looking reminder emails. Remember that your bank would never request that you send personal information via e-mail.
  • Avoid pop-up ads that promise a prize or alert you to a previously undetected personal threat; these are almost always disguised scams that ask for your personal information in return for unrequested services.

Pharming

Similar to phishing, pharming is the hijacking of an official banking site URL to fool users into using a fake site.

  • Look for a lock or key icon in the address bar when you log on; this indicates that the site encrypts your private information.
  • Use the most up-to-date version of your web browser.
  • Forward any suspected fraudulent emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov, to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx, and to the abuse/complaint email address of the company being impersonated.

Keylogging

Hackers can obtain your account and card numbers by installing keylogging (keystroke-recording) software through unstable public Internet connections.

  • Install and update virus and malware-scanning software. Also pay attention to software security update notifications, and make sure they are done regularly.
  • Refrain from enabling features that remember your devices and IP addresses in lieu of requiring security information. Choosing convenience over security may end up costing you in financial woes; hackers can easily mimic your IP address and log on unrestricted.

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