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How to bank online securely
Learn how to use safer digital banking practices to protect your information—and your money—from online fraudsters.
By ATB Financial 6 February 2023 5 min read
As digital technology becomes increasingly integrated into everyday life, more and more Albertans are turning to online and mobile banking to manage their money, perform transactions and make purchases. From paying for pizza delivery to sending e-transfers, online banking is convenient and contactless. Many find it hard to imagine a time when they didn’t have direct access to their financial accounts on their devices.
For some, however, the transition away from carrying cash and banking in-branch can be a challenging one. While financial institutions have technology, processes and procedures in place to protect your money and information, you might have questions about how to make sure you’re using digital banking safely, and what you can do to keep your personal information private and secure.
1. Be vigilant online
The most effective way to avoid breaches of your information security is to pay attention and exercise commonsense online.
Don’t use a search engine to find atb.com, ATB Personal or ATB Business. Fraudsters can buy ads to intercept your search and take you to a counterfeit login page. Instead, always visit ATB Personal or ATB Business by navigating from atb.com, by typing the URL directly into your address bar, or using a bookmark of one of our published URLs (such as atbonline.com, or personal.atb.com).
Make sure any banking or shopping site you visit is secure. When you go to a secure site, a lock icon should appear on the left side of the address bar. (It’s especially important to check for the lock icon when you visit your financial institution’s website.) If you have a security feature built into your browser, or separate security software installed on your device, use it to verify sites before you enter personal or financial information.
Exercise the same caution when it comes to email. When you get an email, you should always verify who you’re dealing with and confirm that they’re legitimate.
Bad actors often try to impersonate ATB or other reputable brands via email. While their tactics change, these fraudulent emails often relate to policy or fee changes or notification of suspicious activity, or will claim that urgent action is required to avoid your service being interrupted. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s always your safest bet to contact the institution where the message seems to have originated to validate its authenticity.
Want to create an additional line of defense? Review your online accounts regularly—when you get your monthly statement, for example—to check for any unusual activity or unauthorized withdrawals.
If you feel overwhelmed, spend time with someone who’s more comfortable with the technology and the protocols of using it safely. Chat with a trusted family member or friend who has experience using online banking and learn what they use it for—and how they’ve developed good habits to help keep their information secure.
2. Learn how to use locks, privacy settings, and 2FA
There are several ways to make good use of available security features on your devices and online accounts.
First, make sure the devices you use for online banking are password protected or locked. That way, if you misplace your phone or walk away from the computer, your information won't be available for anyone to view. Locks and password protection also help protect two-factor authentication passcodes (more on those below) sent to you via text, email or phone call.
Next, consider making your social media accounts private. Taking this step can protect you from hackers that troll social media accounts for details of your personal identity that can help them access your bank account.
When it comes to your digital banking accounts, one of the best and easiest ways to protect yourself is to know how to safely use two-factor authentication (2FA), which is an automated process that uses a second account and/or device to confirm your identity, often (but not always) when you log in. You'll be sent a one-time passcode code via text, email or a phone call that you’ll enter into the online banking platform, often immediately after you’ve entered your username and password.
Since 2FA has become a standard security measure across various digital platforms, bad actors have started finding ways to obtain one-time passcodes from unsuspecting victims. It’s important to remember that no legitimate financial institution will ever ask you to share a one-time passcode verbally, via text or email, or via input into a form on an unrelated website or application. For instance, ATB will never ask you to enter your one-time passcode anywhere other than ATB Personal or ATB Business.
If you receive a “one-time passcode” for your ATB Personal or ATB Business account that you were not expecting, it’s an indication that someone may be trying to breach your account. Contact ATB to report the fraudulent message and update your credentials immediately to prevent further attempts.
While 2FA can seem inconvenient at first, it’s one of the best ways to keep your account secure, and users often find their muscle memory adapting to this change quickly.
ATB Personal app users can also activate biometric login (Touch ID/Face ID) as a second factor for security.
3. Don’t share sensitive information
Never share your login information or passwords with anyone—even someone your trust. While it's natural to want to share your login information with a family member or spouse, doing so puts you at greater risk (especially if the other person is hacked). If you hold an account jointly with someone, make sure that each of you has separate login credentials.
Having a strong password also plays a major role in keeping your login information safe. Use different logins for all of your online accounts to prevent a cyber criminal getting access to multiple accounts, and avoid saving passwords in a note on your computer, in your email, or on another piece of software.
4. Up your e-transfer game
While Interac e-Transfers® are a safe way to send money, as with all digital banking, there are practices you can follow to make sure that both your and the recipient’s information is kept secure.
When you send an e-transfer to someone, make sure their security question is one only they can answer. Try the place you first met each other or your middle name—not the city they live in or their favourite sports team. If you need to send them the answer, a text message or phone conversation is generally more secure than an email.
If you’re receiving funds, sign up for auto-deposit, which allows money sent to you via e-transfer to be deposited automatically into a specified account, without you having to answer a security question.
At ATB we have extensive security features in place to make sure your information stays safe and private. For more information, take one of our digital banking tutorials and learn about enabling two-factor authentication, changing your password, sending money and more.
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