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Navigating online banking and bill paying

The Ins and Outs of Online Banking


If you are more comfortable doing your banking in person, then switching to the virtual world can seem like a leap into the unknown.  But with time, you can start to reap the benefits of this convenient new way to bank.

The key to successful online banking is understanding the benefits and the risks.

The benefits of online banking include:

  • Quickly and easily paying your bills, setting up recurring payments, and transferring money from one account to another.
  • Banking anytime, anywhere. As long as you have an Internet connection, then you are able to access online banking services.
  • Viewing your account on your smartphone. Some online accounts also have smartphone apps that make it easy for you to view your account while away from home.
  • Receiving alerts. Many online banking services will send you alerts through email or text to let you know when certain account activity takes place or your balance falls below a certain limit.
  • Managing your money. Some online banking services offer budgeting tools alongside account activity to help you better manage your money.
  • Saving some trees. If you choose to only view your account through online banking then you will receive less paper mail from your bank.

The risks of online banking include:    

  • Limits of the service.  There may be times when you will need to go to a physical bank or credit union to conduct business.
  • Limited customer service. When you are conducting a bank transaction you might like to ask a bank representative for assistance.
  • Comfort. There may be a learning curve and it might take some time before you are comfortable using online banking.
  • Security threats. While online banking services are designed to be secure, there have been times when a bank or credit union security system has been compromised.

To keep your information secure:

  • Make sure you are on the actual site. Sometimes, people are misdirected to imposter sites.  Look for "https://" at the beginning of the web address.  The “s” means it’s secure.  The site should also have security verifications on its landing page and a lock symbol in its browser bar.
  • Do not store you user name or passwords.  This may save time when logging in, but it may make your information less secure.
  • Use difficult passwords and change them regularly.  Avoid using names, locations, or numbers (your phone number or birthdate) that are easily associated with you.  Also avoid obvious keyboard patterns.  The best passwords include capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Avoid using public computers or WiFi.

Tools to Help

Keeping Your Information Secure Online

Follow these steps to keep your information secure online.

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Information is great. But taking small steps now can lead to big changes.
  • Today
  • Understand the benefits and risks of online banking.
  • Next Week
  • Once you have decided to make use of the online banking service, do all you can do to keep your personal financial information safe.
  • During the Next Few Months
  • Consider other web-based tools to help you manage your money. Financial apps are easy-to-use, and they go everywhere with you on your smartphone or tablet. Learn how to choose the right finance app at http://www.bankrate.com/financing/mobile-finance/how-to-choose-the-right-finance-app/