Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Online Banking: Consumer Safety Tips

Conducting your banking over the Internet can be a great convenience, saving you a significant amount of time and effort. Thanks to modern technology, people today now have the opportunity to view their account balances, check their transaction history, transfer money, pay bills and take advantage of a host of other services, all with the click of a button from the comfort of their own home, anytime, day or night. With the sensitivity of the info rmation being transmitted however, there are both security and privacy concerns that must be addressed. By taking a few simple and easy precautions, you can greatly decrease the risks associated with online banking and allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of this service without worry.

**Guard your personal information

Be sure to read your financial institution?s privacy policy and disclosure notices closely because your bank may be sharing your personal info rmation with other organizations. The Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999 was aimed at protecting the privacy of the customers of financial institutions and has created measures which help to protect the security and confidentiality of customers? nonpublic personal info rmation. According to the Act, a financial institution may only disclose customers? nonpublic personal info rmation to a nonaffiliated third party upon giving them notice that the institution is planning to do so. The customer, in turn, must be given the opportunity to opt out of this info rmation sharing and be given an explanation as to how to exercise this option. Financial institutions may also track your web browsing habits in order to market products that are more specific to your needs and interests. You can limit this tracking by choosing to restrict your computer?s acceptance of ?cookies? through options found in your Web browser.

**Make sure your banking website is secure

Only enter private info rmation onto a secure website that encrypts your info rmation while it is being transmitted over the Web. Encrypting info rmation simply means scrambling the data during transmission in order to protect against unauthorized access. A secure Web site can be identified by a URL which begins with ?https? (which means it is ?secure?). Some secure Web sites also use a small lock or key symbol to show that they are safe.

**Make sure your computer is properly protected

Be sure to install a virus protection program, check daily for online updates, and periodically scan all files on your computer.

**Review your bank statements every month and save your transaction information

Compare records and make sure all of the information is in agreement. Be sure to report any discrepancies immediately.

**DO NOT use easily identifiable passwords

Such things as birthdays, phone numbers, or first names are poor password choices. Use a combination of letters and numbers, change your password often, and do not share it.

**DO NOT open E-mail attachments from unknown sources

The most common way that computer viruses are being spread is through Email. Reduce the chances of your computer becoming infected by avoiding unknown attachments and immediately deleting any unexpected Email, no matter how persuasive the subject line may be.

**DO NOT have other browsers open while banking

**Make sure you are using the correct Web site

Be certain that you have entered your financial institution?s correct Web site address before conducting any online banking. There have been instances where fraudulent Web sites with very similar Internet addresses have been created in a deliberate attempt to lure customers into entering personal information such as their account number and password.

If you have any questions you can contact the Office of Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or visit our website at www.attorneygeneral.gov.