With hacks and data breaches making headlines almost every week, it’s more important now than ever to take steps to keep your bank account information secure. While your bank keeps your information safe, it’s important that you also take action to safeguard this information and protect your account information from falling into the wrong hands.
EditKeeping Your Account Number Secure
- Avoid writing checks if your account has them. While once the most common method of paying people or merchants for purchases, every check that is written contains everything needed for a fraudster to compromise your account, including your name, account number, and bank routing number.
- Use a P2P (person to person) payment service to pay other people when you owe them money. Many banks offer this service at no cost for their customers.
- Use debit or credit cards to pay merchants rather than writing checks. The account number on your debit and credit cards is not the same as your bank account number and can easily be replaced without impacting your bank account if they are lost, stolen, or compromised.
- Sign up for electronic payments via ACH for recurring payments such as your mortgage or rent payment, credit card payments, utility bills, etc.
- Sign up to receive electronic statements instead of paper statements. Although your account number is generally masked on your statement, there is still risk of paper statements being lost in the mail or being intercepted by a fraudster. You can mitigate this risk by receiving electronic statements.
- This service is offered by most banks at no cost. In some cases, you may even be able to avoid paper statement fees by signing up to receive your statements electronically. Check with your bank to learn how to sign up.
- Shred old documents that you don’t need anymore. Keep in mind that you don’t need to keep your bank account statements forever.
- Your bank can provide old copies of statements for several years if you need a copy later for some reason, or you may be able to access this information through your online banking.
- Keep any documents that contain your account information in a secure location such as a safe or locked drawer. If you have paper statements that you need to keep, or even your account agreement from when you opened the account, keep this information in a safe place.
EditKeeping Access to Your Account Secure
- Use strong passwords and security questions for your online and mobile banking access. Avoid falling into a trap of using the same password for multiple logins as this will make your account more susceptible to a fraudster.
- Use biometric logins if your bank offers them. Biometric logins include finger print (such as Touch ID) or facial recognition. Banks are increasingly relying on biometric recognition as fraud trends continue to rise.
- Never provide your bank account login information to anyone for any reason, including your bank or law enforcement. Once another person has your login information, the door is opened to unauthorized activity.
- Keep in mind that your bank will never need to ask you for your login information because they already have this information on file. Sometimes scammers will pose as someone from your bank with the hope of phishing for your account information. If you suspect this is happening, hang up immediately and contact your bank.
- If law enforcement, or someone stating they are law enforcement, asks for your information, this is likely a scam. Police or other agencies will subpoena your bank for this information if they need to rather than contacting you directly.
- Keep your phone and computer locked when you are not using them. Use biometric locks for your phone and computer, if possible. Otherwise consider using traditional passcode or password locks.
- By utilizing these features, you are adding another security layer between a potential fraudster and your sensitive bank account information.
- Avoid accessing your online or mobile banking from unsecure WiFi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports, and hotels. There is more risk of your information being intercepted when you use these types of connections.
- Disconnect from unsecure WiFi and login using cellular data if you need to access your account information. Remember, if other people know the login (or there is no login) to the WiFi hotspot, then other people may be able to intercept your login information.
- If you are unable to use biometric logins, change your passwords on a regular basis.
- Keep your phone and computer operating systems up to date. Oftentimes these updates include important security updates that help to keep your personal information secure.
- Use caution when downloading apps that request access your online banking login. While there are some legitimate apps that help with budgeting, etc., similar apps can be created by fraudsters with the intention of stealing your account information.