Daily banking, managing stock portfolios, researching financial information, paying bills... from the mundane to the particularly complicated, it can all be done online these days. But just how safe is it to handle your finances online? It all depends on who it is you’re allowing to see your fiscal information.
You read that correctly. You are in complete control of your financial life online. Ultimately, you decide who to trust with your precious information. How do you know which financial institutions are reputable and which are disingenuous? Check for a few simple factors:
- Look for the padlock. When using an Internet Explorer browser, you can see a discreet padlock on the status bar (usually on the right). Sometimes the lock is yellow, sometimes it’s in silhouette. This symbol indicates that you are using a secure site. You can also click the icon to read more information regarding the site’s security – what type of security it uses, how current the security is, and so on.
- Make sure there’s an ‘s’. Websites typically begin with HTTP – hypertext transfer protocol – but websites that are in secure mode have an extra letter. A site that begins with HTTPS indicates that it is a secure site that can be trusted. Any information that transfers between your computer and a secure website is heavily encrypted and impossible to decode by a scammer.
- Time out. Most truly secure websites will log you out automatically when you’ve been inactive on the site for several minutes. This is a slightly annoying but tremendously safe safeguard. In fact, if the site doesn’t do it for you, you should get into the habit of doing so. Log out of the site you’re on and close the browser when your transaction is complete.