Banking online has become an integral part of modern banking. Along with it has come the widespread practice of paying bills online-- and for good reason. In a world where the ability to do things more quickly and efficiently is becoming apart of daily life, a quick and convenient way to pay your bills is just par for the course. This does, however, come with a caveat: how can you be sure that when you’re paying a bill online that it’s being done safely and securely, and not compromising your financial information? Luckily, this is a question that has been acknowledged by financial institutions, which has led to a number of security measures.
What Makes Paying Bills Online Safe?
To protect your financial information from falling into the wrong hands, financial institutions have taken steps to ensure that safety is a top priority. Some of the common practices include:
A financial institution executing sound encryption practices is the meat and potatoes of keeping online bill payment safe. Good encryption will turn your private info into a series into a series of unrecognizable characters before you send it out to your financial institution over the murky waters of the internet; this means that a prospective identity thief lurking around looking for your information will come up with a bunch of useless characters even if they do get their hands on it. Financial encryption is carefully coded so that it can only be decrypted by the financial institution intended to receive it.
Enhanced Authentication Protocol
Many institutions also require multi-factor authentication to access an online banking account. For example, a 3-step process would look something like this:
- Step 1:
Entering a password or pin number, previously chosen by you, that only you should know.
- Step 2:
Device identification confirmation code, sent to a device of your choosing via text, call, or email.
- Step 3:
Touch ID, which is established as unique through a fingerprint scan done on a smartphone.
- Step 1:
These measures are widely considered to be best-practice in the industry, because they make the possibility of identity theft extremely difficult for anyone. There are, however a number of precautions that you should take, as a user, to further ensure that you are using online bill pay safely.
Tips For Safe Use of Online Bill Pay
Keep Personal Information on Secure Connections
This is one of the easiest mistakes to make, and one of the most common. Places with public wifi are significantly easier to steal information from compared to somewhere with a private, secure wifi connection. Entering private information (social security number, credit card information, passwords) while using a public connection in a place like a public park or airport will make you much more susceptible to identity theft. Hold off on entering any of that information until you are in a place with a connection that you know is safe.
Change Passwords Regularly--and Make Them ComplexStaying up to date on the best practice for preventing a stolen password is a key part of keeping your finances safe. Even though it’s a bit of a pain, you’ll want to have a unique password for each account that you have, and not something easy to guess (like something with your name or birth date in it). Instead, you’ll want to generate passwords that use a diverse mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and preferably don’t mean much of anything at all. A password that is complete nonsense is much safer than one with actual words or names in it, and the minor inconvenience of forgetting a password is a whole lot better than stolen financial information.
Don’t Click on Email Links
Even if it looks legit, an email from your “bank” that is prompting you to login to an account or asking for private information like a social security number can very easily be an attempt to steal your information. Take the safe route, and only login to your financial accounts by directly typing the URL into your web browser, or using a secure app provided by your institution.
What Are the Benefits of Online Bill Pay?
Having your identity stolen is a scary prospect, but if you follow these tips, and are putting your money into a trustworthy institution, don’t fear; online bill pay also provides a lot of benefits! There is the aforementioned convenience and speed that paying bills online allows, but there are a few other things that you can take advantage of too. With features like automated bill pay, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pay a bill and accidentally incurring late fees; in fact you’ll hardly have to think about those consistent monthly bills at all, and setting up those payments can be done right online.
There’s also the option of deciding what you’ll pay on larger costs, like a monthly loan payment; if you want to pay a little more than the minimum payment, you can easily just log into your online banking account and make that decision with the click of a mouse or tap of the thumb.
If these safety features and beneficial assets are all sounding good to you, you’re in luck! HRCCU offers all of these things (and more) as a part of our new online banking service. Want to learn more about what else our new and improved online banking can do for you? We’ve got a blog for that.