Guest Post: Strategies for Optimized Online Banking
November 15, 2013 by Sarah Collins, NerdWallet
Although the first online banking services premiered to general skepticism, in part due to horror stories of lax security, lost funds or slow processing, the practice has never been safer, easier or more convenient than it is now. Today, an ever-increasing number of personal and marriage finances are managed through online accounts, which are offered by nearly every major financial institution. However, many customers still fail to take advantage of every benefit online banking has to offer and miss out on plenty of perks and conveniences. Whether you’ve recently set up your first online account or just want to get more out of your service, check out the tips below for a better online banking experience.
Lock It Down
When you set up your online banking account, choosing an ironclad password is one of the most important things you can do to improve your security. This may seem like a no-brainer but many people use personal info such as birthdays, children names, pet names and anniversaries that are easier for criminals to figure out than you’d think. Compose your password of upper and lower case letters along with numbers, including special characters, if possible. The more random the better.
If you’re really concerned about safety, ask your credit union if they offer a two-factor authentication. This means that in addition to your username and password, there is an additional level of security, in the form of a PIN sent to your phone, or through a security token which generates new PINs periodically. Ask about email notifications too. Some credit unions will automatically email you anytime there’s activity on your account.
Keep in mind that a credit union will never email you a request for sensitive information such as your social security number or to change your password. Emails like these are called phishing’ scams and even though the logo and language may seem authentic don’t fall for it. Instead, visit or call your credit union (don’t use a phone number from any suspicious emails).
Tip: Online banking from a mobile application (like one on your smartphone) can be safer than a laptop or desktop, due in part to mobile apps’ immunity to certain types of stealthy malicious software.
Take the Paperless Path
You may not think replacing your paper statements for online ones makes a difference but it does. Going paperless allows you instant access to your funds in real time so you can monitor that recent ice cream purchase or follow a check until it posts. Plus, when that check clears you can view it in seconds, just in case you forgot who it was addressed to. In addition, less paper means less natural resource waste, including trees and fossil fuel transport.
Tip: Ask your credit union to email you weekly or monthly updates to your account statement for easy, up to date viewing. Then download and tuck them away in a secured folder for future reference.
Line ‘Em Up
Categorizing your online banking is one of the most beneficial tools available. To help you, Triangle Credit Union offers FinanceWorks, a robust financial planning tool. From groceries and credit cards to automatic mortgage and car payments, categorization through FinanceWorks gives you way more control than sifting through paper bills stuffed in a desk drawer. Keep these tips in mind for an easier, more secure online banking experience.