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10 Tips for staying safe with internet banking

By Bidvest Bank
Increasing numbers of South Africans are using internet banking on a regular basis – whether it’s via their smartphone, tablet or on their computer at home or at work. Unfortunately, the more widely used internet banking becomes, the more criminals are incentivised to gain access to these online profiles. So, while doing your banking online is quick and convenient, it does make you more vulnerable to bank fraud. We’ve compiled our top 10 tips for staying safe online when it comes to internet banking:

1. Don’t give away personal information by email. Never trust an email that claims to be from your bank asking for personal details such as your username or password, your bank account number or even your ID number. Also, avoid clicking on suspicious links within emails claiming to be from your bank. When in doubt, contact your bank to check whether the communication is genuine. 

2. Create strong passwords. A surprising number of people use passwords for their internet banking profile that are very easy to guess – such as their first name or surname, or their birthdate. Choose a difficult combination of words, uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters for your password, and the longer it is the better. Also, make it a habit to change your password at least every 3 months.

3. Keep your contact details up to date. If any of your personal details change, such as your surname or physical address, inform your bank so that they can verify you correctly. You should also tell them immediately if your cellphone number changes, so that you can still receive confirmation SMSs while doing internet banking transactions. 

4. Pay attention. Avoid performing other tasks while you're logged into internet banking. If you’re in a public place, make sure no one sees you enter your username and password, and log off immediately once you have finished banking. If possible, try to avoid doing internet banking at internet cafes, as you never know what potentially compromising software could be loaded on the computer you’re using. 

5. Keep your computer security up to date. Always have a password to access your computer, and make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. Install a firewall, and be aware of using portable storage devices such as removable hard drives or flash drives. 

6. Memorise your PIN. Never store your PIN on paper where it can be found, or even on your computer where it could be accessed if its stolen. Don’t tell anyone your profile login details – even a bank official. 

7. Stay suspicious. If you think that your password or login details may have been compromised, change your details immediately, either online or by visiting your bank branch.

8. Verify the SMSs you are receiving. Always check that the information you see on your confirmation SMSs match up to the activity on your account, and that you receive notifications when you’re actually logging in. If something doesn’t add up, contact your bank immediately. 

9. Check why reception is lost. If you’re on your internet banking profile via your phone and you lose reception, double check that there’s not a more serious problem, such as an illegal sim swap. If this is the case, contact your bank straight away. 

10. Make sure you’re on the correct internet banking website. Your internet banking site should always be secure, i.e. the web address should start with “https” rather than “http”. To be safe, type the address of the internet banking site yourself, rather than using a search engine or accessing it via favourites or bookmarks. You should also never click on a link to your online banking from an email or SMS.

As the internet becomes more sophisticated and widely used for banking, so the incidents of cyber fraud related to internet banking increase. Read more on how we protect your safety when it comes to banking in general, or call us on 0860 11 11 77 if you need help or want to report something suspicious.