How to stay safe when banking online

10 tips to stay safe when banking online in the UAE

Whether it’s paying your bills or sending money overseas, online banking has proved particularly convenient over the coronavirus pandemic. Managing your money over the internet is both safe and convenient in the UAE – provided you follow a few basic protocols.

This article explains how you can stay safe when banking online in the UAE.

Keep confidential details secret

Some things, like the password to your bank account and your Personal Identification Number (PIN) should stay secret. An easy way for scammers to access your bank account is to pose as bank officials and ask for these details for verification purposes – but genuine bank officials will never ask for this sensitive information. Don’t share these details with anyone, and don’t write them down because you could misplace or lose them. Commit them to memory instead – and keep them a secret.

Use private devices and Wi-Fi

Stay safe when banking online by logging into your bank account through the mobile app on your smartphone, or via a computer from your home or office. Avoid logging on via a public machine, for example at a hotel, or from someone else’s mobile phone because that puts your accounts at risk.

Secure networks are safer

Whether it’s banking or reading email, don’t access public Wi-Fi networks for anything other than causal browsing or reading the news. Hackers can easily access your computer or mobile device and steal personal information over a public Wi-Fi system – sometimes without even being in the same country. If you must access your bank account remotely, log on to the app using mobile data.

Double check the bank’s website

Log on to your bank’s authorized website each time you want to carry out a transaction. Ensure you type the address directly into your browser and that you’re not clicking on any links. Check to see that there’s a padlock next to the URL, which indicates that the website is secure. If the browser warns you that the website is unsafe, end the transaction immediately and change your password when you are able to log in from a secure device.

Sign out when you’ve finished

Remember to log off when you’re done, especially on a public computer. Don’t just close the browser, but follow the instructions to ensure your protection. Leaving your accounts open leaves them accessible to anyone who uses the computer after you.

Pick an extra-strong password

Modern hacking algorithms can crunch through hundreds of thousands of passwords per minute, so you need one that isn’t easy for machines to guess. So, if your bank requires a user-generated password, make sure you choose a combination of numbers, special characters, small and capital letters, and punctuation marks. Don’t choose a word or phrase or the name of your first pet. Make sure to use a different password for each account so that if one is compromised, the others remain protected.

Also remember to change your password every 60 days. Having to memorize new passwords can be tedious but trying to recover stolen money is a much bigger headache. Changing your password on a regular basis with a different combination of meaningless characters is thought to make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your accounts.

Update that antivirus package

To keep your online banking transactions safe, make sure your personal devices have the most current version of a licensed anti-virus software. Update it regularly to guard against new viruses or malware such as Trojans, which monitor your activities and send sensitive data to hackers.

Watch out for phishing

Stay alert to any emails, SMS messages or phone calls advising you about issues with your bank accounts. If they ask for sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, bank account and credit card numbers, or OTP, you can be sure they’ve come from a scammer who wants access to your accounts, a type of fraud referred to as phishing. Do not reply to these emails or click on any links or attachments within the email, even if they appear to come from a verified address that matches your bank’s domain name. Instead, call your bank on the phone banking number and discuss the problem with them.

Sign up for account notifications

Some online banking facilities offer the added security of account notifications. You can set these in such a way that you’re alerted whenever there are any transactions to new and unfamiliar accounts or transactions that are above a certain limit. Such notifications can quickly advise about suspicious activity on your accounts and limit the exposure you may face.

Remember to monitor your accounts regularly by checking your bank statements or logging on to see what payments are going in and out.

Remember to share this article to help your friends and family stay safe when banking online.

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Keith J Fernandez is an editor and communications professional who advises on marketing content strategy. He is based between the UAE, the Netherlands and India and writes about business, technology and personal finance.

This article is intended to provide general information about finance and investments and does not replace or should be taken as professional financial advice. The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article except information on Citibank N.A. – UAE products referenced herein.
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