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Online banking allows people to undertake traditional banking activities, like account transfers, payment of bills, and requests for stopping payments, etc., via the Internet. Customers can also keep tabs on the account balance from the comfort of their home. In this day and age, online banking has become an indispensable facility for people who are hard pressed for time and find it difficult, if not impossible, to reschedule their busy lives for the sake of making a few withdrawals and deposits. However, there are a few issues that have to be borne in mind in order to avoid being cyber-scammed.

How Safe is Online Banking

This question often torments the customer, who appreciates the facility of online banking but has a few misgivings about security. An online bank account is accessed with the help of a username and a password. On divulging this information to an impostor, the customer ceases to have control over the online account. The username and the password can be obtained by a trickster in one of the following ways.

Phishing
Phishing is the attempt to acquire potentially sensitive information via email, instant messages, cell phones, or through fraudulent websites and social networking websites. Generally, a link spoofing the authentic bank website is sent via email by scammers, to unsuspecting customers forcing the latter to divulge confidential information like their username and password.

Malicious Software
Internet address redirection, which results in redirecting customers to a copycat website that closely resembles the original site, occurs when a malicious software has sneaked into the computer. Hackers may also use a malware program such as keylogger, that allows them to monitor the key strokes. The username and the password can thus be obtained surreptitiously.

Weak Wireless Network Security
Most people who access the Internet from their home, are not tech savvy. They may inadvertently allow others to access their wireless network and retrieve confidential information.

Safe Online Banking Practices

Using Virtual Keyboards
Banks provide the option of using the virtual keyboard as a measure to counteract keylogging malware. The customer should always use the virtual keyboard instead of the physical keyboard.

URL Beginning with "https://"
The website's URL should begin with "https://" rather than "http://" since the former allows the user to log in by creating a secure channel over an unsecured network.

Safe Access
One should avoid accessing the account from public computers. One should also avoid accessing the account via a public Wi-Fi from one's laptop. Moreover, a home network ensures safe and secured online banking services.

Choosing a Strong Password
A strong password, that is at least eight characters long and uses a combination of upper and lower case letters, number, and symbols, is ideal.

Choosing Security Questions
Most bank sites allow the user to choose security questions and answers in addition to the username and password. One will be forced to answer this question in case one is accessing the account from a different/unrecognized computer. This provides additional security.

Thwarting Phishing
One should avoid logging into the account via a link that has been received in an incoming email requesting a change of username or password. This may help ward off phishing.

In addition to these measures, one should remember that not all banks operating on the Internet are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). FDIC insured banks guarantee deposits less than USD 100,000. Many banks, that are chartered overseas, are not FDIC insured. To determine whether a bank is FDIC insured, the customer should visit the FDIC website.