As technology has improved significantly over the last decade, criminals have become proportionately smarter and savvier. This is especially true in the online world - the universe where crooks can hide behind e-mails, websites and fake personas. Unfortunately, these same criminals would like to find their way into your bank account. However, there are some simple tips that you can follow to make for a safe online banking experience.

PROTECT YOUR PASSWORD: Your password is the key that opens the gate to your online bank account. As such, crooks would love to know this vital piece of information. To prevent this, make sure your password is not too personal. Avoid using your birthday, phone number, or social security number in your password. Craft a password that is a combination of impersonal letters and numbers. The longer, the better. It is also recommended that you change your password every few months or so.

BEWARE OF SUSPICIOUS EMAILS: Those wanting to steal personal information online often resort to what is called "phishing". In this practice, criminals may send emails asking for credit card info, PINs (personal identification numbers), or passwords. Crooks in the online banking world often send emails that seem to be from legitimate financial institutions. These emails can appear to be convincing because they contain the logo of a real online bank. However, these emails often contain a link that leads you to a fake site designed to lure you into compromising personal information.

These suspicious emails can be easily recognized because they will usually fail to address you correctly, they contain many grammatical errors and they have links to suspicious or unfamiliar domains. If an email is questionable, it is always safe to check with your financial institution. Legitimate emails from your online bank will typically follow the same standards each time. They will usually address you by your proper name and will never ask you for your password, PIN, or credit card information. A legitimate online bank will usually notify you of its security standards on their official site. If all else fails, then call customer service to get clarity on your bank's security policies.

USE ANTI-VIRUS AND FIREWALL PROTECTION: When it comes to online banking, anti-virus software and firewall protection can prove to be invaluable. Be sure to get the best protection your money can buy. High prices don't always guarantee the best quality. Shop around and consult computer experts or PC magazines to find the highest rated products. Anti-virus and firewall protection keeps your computer safe from viruses that can steal space on your computer's hard drive or rob personal information from you.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION: Never hesitate to get help from your financial institution if you think you may have accidentally submitted your personal information to a fraudulent website. As a matter of fact, contact them quickly if this ever occurs. Also, be sure your bank has your current mailing address and phone number(s). If they wish to contact you with sensitive information, then they will likely make a phone call and/or send you something in the mail concerning the matter.

Online banking can be both a convenient and safe way to manage your finances. However, just as with anything else, the necessary precautions have to be taken in order to ensure the safest experience possible.

Safe Online Banking Tips

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