How to bank anytime, anywhere, but with caution

How to bank anytime, anywhere, but with caution

While using mobile banking, always use official applications on your smartphone which are generated from your bank.



By Waleed Barhaji

Published: Sun 22 Feb 2015, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:23 PM

It’s difficult to imagine life before the era of mobile phones, the Internet or online banking. Punching the keypad — to pay utility bills, check bank statements or transfer funds — is now part of our hyper-hectic life. Customers now expect traditional banks to enable round-the-clock online facilities such as account transfers, fixed deposit investments, stop-payment requests, and even offer online loan and credit card applications.

So pervasive is this demand for online banking that some new-age banks prefer to invest more heavily in cyber security to make their online platforms fully secure, rather than open new brick and mortar outlets. In this age of constant travel, mobility and accessibility become the two key factors in customer satisfaction. Each laptop, tablet or smartphone has now turned into a bank branch, which is why financial institutions strive to provide real-time account information and services to their globetrotting customers in a safe and secure manner.

Banks, especially those dealing with high net worth customers, constantly update their technology to stay user-friendly for smart-phones, tablets or even wearable devices. Also, ensuring that the wealth and personal information of customers remain safe is of paramount importance. To this end, advances in real-time transaction pattern monitoring, mobile technology, biometrics such as voice signature, facial and fingerprint recognition and other forms of authentication are the new normal.

Convenience and caution

Customers can now conduct a whole range of mobile banking operations, swiftly and easily, through dedicated apps. They can transfer funds locally or internationally, find ATMs and branch locations, get financial history and view account and card details, almost in a jiffy. This incredible convenience, however, comes with great responsibility. Here are a few thumb-rules that customers need to follow instinctively, while accessing online banking.

Physical safety

Always store your cheque books, debit and credit cards in secure places, and never keep PIN information together with the cards. Preferably customers should not write down their passwords. However, these days, when there are too many passwords to remember, it is up to individual customers to devise a fool-proof method to remember and recall such information. Also, keep details of your cards and bank security telephone numbers in a safe and accessible place. In case of emergency — be it theft or loss of cards — notifying the bank should be your first priority.

Information safety

Unfortunately, customers who live extremely busy lives, or are unfamiliar with the Internet and new devices, tend to give vital information away. They often hand out passwords to office assistants, helpful friends or younger family members. There is need to err on the side of caution.

You may need some help to familiarise yourself with online banking, but do not share Internet banking login details with others. It is also important to ensure that only you, or your joint account holder, have access to mail communication from banks. 

Be firm with children; they may be smart with devices but are not mature enough to handle sensitive information. Also, keep Internet banking passwords reasonably complex and unpredictable. Do not give in to laziness — ensure you change passwords periodically. Some banks ensure that customers automatically change passwords every three months.

Device security

Keep your computer, tablet and phone free of virus and malware. Avoid using public Internet sites for online banking. This makes you particularly vulnerable to virus and even hackers. While using mobile banking, always use official applications on your smartphone which are generated from your bank. Always make sure your bank has sanctioned the app before downloading or using it.

User precaution

Never let your guard down and always type your bank’s address into the web browser. It is best not to follow any links. Phishing is a real scourge and hackers have been known to lure users to fake sites and induced to give up password details. When banking online, a ‘locked padlock’ symbol will always appear in your browser window. In addition,  ‘http’ at the start of the website address will change to ‘https’ when a secure connection has been made.

Cross check

Check your statements regularly. If something does not add up — notify your bank as soon as possible. If you act fast, any disputes or problems can be settled. Be wary of phone calls from people asking for your PIN or passwords. Fraudsters usually come up with plausible stories to persuade you to disclose information.  Always register with your bank for instant SMS alerts for any financial transactions in your accounts.

Investment-wary

Never invest in anything that seems too good to be true. White collar criminals often try to entice customers with ‘investment opportunities’ in shares, plots of land or gold and will push them to act quickly. Often they will send you an email or SMS you the offer. Always check with your relationship manager or a bank representative before signing a cheque for investment that is sold in the bank’s name.  Remember, banks try to make services as user-friendly, accessible and safe as possible. But, some responsibility lies with you to protect your wealth by taking these basic precautions. 

The writer is the business head of Consumer Finance, Noor Bank. Views expressed by him are his own and do not reflect the &newspaper’s policy.


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