By Bank Windhoek's Executive Officer of Marketing and Corporate Communication Services, Jacquiline Pack.
As we approach the festive season, we want to remind customers to be vigilant while banking, especially online.
Online banking allows customers to access their bank accounts to do financial transactions through the internet on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. It is quick and enables customers to pay their bills and transfer money without visiting or calling a bank. Online banking is of great convenience. But, with all the publicity about online identity theft, it is essential to be safe while banking online. The following are vital tips to bank safely:
Know whom you are doing business with
Customers should guard their valuables by not giving their confidential information to strangers. This is because online fraudsters can easily impersonate a bank. Customers must use different means to help ensure the financial institution is legitimate and safe to transact with. By law, banks cannot solicit customers' passwords, account numbers, or other personal information. Suppose a customer gets an email asking them for personal information. In that case, they should contact their bank immediately and report such emails.
While on the internet, customers should access the online banking website by typing the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) into the address bar rather than clicking links they might see in an email, an instant message, or another website. They should check for anything that looks unfamiliar, unprofessional, spelling mistakes or out of place.
Use a secured computer
Maintaining active, up-to-date antivirus, spyware, and firewall protection are crucial. Customers must keep their operating system and other applications updated with the latest security patches and avoid transactions at wireless hot spots or Internet cafés. Customers should never respond to emails, instant messages, or phone calls asking them to go to a website to resolve an account problem. This is called "phishing," a form of identity theft that depends entirely upon the victim's cooperation. These requests are NEVER legitimate.
Using a strong password with at least eight characters, with a combination of numbers, letters, and punctuation symbols, are advisable. Customers should not use the same password for banking that they use for other online accounts. The password should always be kept safe and should not be left in a file on a computer, sticky note, or monitor, and the passwords should be changed regularly.
Practice physical security
Personal identification data is more likely to be stolen physically than online. Customers should guard their banking Personal Identity Number (PIN) by not sharing it with anyone, including their bank or security guards at Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). Any documents that contain identifying information should be shredded before being disposed of in dustbins. Customers should not leave credit cards, bank statements, or other financial documents where fraudsters can access such information.
The most effective way to beat fraud is to be vigilant and proactive. For instance, customers can log onto their financial statements regularly and immediately report unauthorised transactions. They can also check their annual credit report from an accredited and reputable credit bureau to spot accounts that fraudsters may have opened without the customer's knowledge.