indicatorAdvice for Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic

How to bank online securely

By ATB Financial 29 June 2020 4 min read

As a result of physical distancing and other safety measures, more Albertans have turned to online and mobile banking to manage their money and complete transactions. From paying for curbside delivery to sending e-transfers, online banking is convenient and contactless. But if you’re not that familiar with this digital banking environment, you might have some questions about how safe it is and what you can do to keep your personal information personal.

While financial institutions have processes and procedures that keep your money and information safe, the steps listed below will help ensure that you are playing your part in keeping your online banking secure and mitigating any fraud risks. Take this interactive quiz to learn how secure your online banking practices are:

Here are four tips to help you navigate online banking securely.

1. Lock it up

The first step is to make sure you password protect or lock whatever device you use to bank online. If you misplace your phone or walk away from the computer, your information then will not be open for anyone to view.
The same applies to your social media privacy settings. Making your account private can protect you from hackers that troll social media accounts for information, such as security question answers, that can help them access your bank account.

Arguably the best and easiest way to protect yourself is to opt for two-factor authentication with your financial institution. This process typically verifies it’s you logging in by contacting you via text or email, and providing a code for you to input. It takes a couple of minutes but is one of the best ways to keep your account secure. ATB Personal app users can also activate biometric login (fingerprint verification) as a second factor.


2. Don’t share sensitive information

It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to passwords—logins and passwords should not be shared. While you may be inclined to share your login information with a spouse or a family member, you also open yourself up to more risk, especially if the other person is hacked or misplaces their device. Even joint account holders can create their own login credentials, meaning you never have to share login information.

Part of keeping your login information safe is having a strong password that’s unique to you (not your birthday) and to the account. We highly recommend using different logins for all of your online accounts to avoid cyber criminals using one to gain access to another.

We also recommend that you never save passwords on your computer, browser or other software.


Video: Five ways to create a super-secure password.

3. Be vigilant online

When you go to a site, make sure it’s secure—your financial institution should have a lock icon on the right side of its website address and a coloured bar. Secure merchants have https:// in their website address. The same caution applies to email. When you receive an email you should always verify who you’re dealing with and if they’re legitimate. Follow these 7 tips to protect yourself from scams and fraud, including how to recognize phishing and other online scams.

As an additional line of defense, we recommend checking your online accounts regularly—when you get your monthly statement, for example—to ensure no unusual activity or unauthorized withdrawals have taken place.


4. E-transfer the right way

When you are sending funds, make the security question something only that person can answer. Like their pet’s name or your middle name, instead of what city they live in or their favourite sports team. We also recommend sending the answer to the security question over a channel other than email, such as through an SMS message or a phone conversation.

When you are receiving funds, register your email for auto-deposit; that makes sure the money goes into the account you specify (and saves the sender from having to come up with a question).

Again, we recommend checking your online accounts regularly and always logging out immediately after finishing your session.

ATB Online will automatically log you out after 10 minutes if there’s no activity detected. But a lot can happen in only a minute, like someone seeing your account number and the transactions you’ve made.

We review the safety of sending e-transfers in, Is Interac e-Transfer safe?


Tap into the hive

Want some more live information? Spend time with someone who can show you the ropes. Chat with a trusted family member or friend who has experience using online banking and learn what they use it for and how.


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 find out all the things you can do, like enabling two-factor authentication, setting up direct deposit with the CRA and sending money.


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