10 Ways to Make Your Bank Account More Secure
By Kristin Hoppe
October 4, 2021
Bank accounts and credit union data breaches are an increasingly common reality of life in the digital age. According to the American Bankers Association, fraud against deposit bank accounts amounted to $25.1 billion in 2018. Phishing emails, internet job and lottery scams, and social engineering through social media accounted for a large amount of these fraudulent activities.
Protecting your data with a few tips from Trustworthy's security experts — and ensuring you have access to all your financial accounts via a Trustworthy account — is an easy way to step up your family's privacy and security measures.
Besides that, what else can you do to protect you and your family from financial fraud? Here are a few easy steps to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic.
1. Make smart decisions with passwords
Creating a difficult password to break is one of your best lines of defense against fraud. But it's not as simple as only choosing a complex password. Here are some actions you can take:
Use a password manager to generate and securely store passwords. A password manager helps you generate a complex, unique password for each of your bank accounts and store it safely. Passwords that are over 15 characters and use a mix of symbols and numbers are the most secure.
Never repeat the same password twice. If a hacker finds your password from another source, they can attempt that same password on different accounts.
Change your passwords frequently. Even if you have a secure password, it's not a bad idea to change it once a month or so. A password manager also makes it easier to create and remember these passwords without getting locked out of your account.
2. Log in through a secure banking/mobile app
According to a 2020 report by Verizon, 22% of data breaches involve phishing attacks. It's easy to be duped if you log in through a link that you've clicked on a web browser or through email.
Most professional banking services have their own secure desktop logins and mobile apps to ensure your login is safer. Never share your password with others or click a link to directly log in to your bank account. If you're accessing the account from your desktop, type the address into your browser instead and make sure you see the "lock" logo next to the correct URL.
It's also safer to log in through a designated mobile app. Make sure to download the app from an official Apple or Google store and not from other third-party sources. Once you download the app, you're often given the opportunity to automatically add various security features to your login.
3. Sign up for multifactor authentication
It's always a good idea to have another layer of security in addition to a complex password. Two-factor authentication with email or SMS is a great place to start. Many banks automatically set this up if you're logging in from an unfamiliar device or location as well. Just make sure to choose a phone number or email address you always have access to.
If the option is available, also look for a more advanced multi-factor authentication solution like Google Authenticator or YubiKey. An increasing number of banks are beginning to offer this security feature.
4. Use voice or face ID
In addition to a password, many banks offer the ability to confirm your ID through face or voice features. This adds yet another layer of security to keep your information more difficult for scammers to hack.
5. Get clever with security questions
It’s easier than ever for hackers to find answers to basic security questions. For example, they may be able to pinpoint your mother's maiden name, the street you grew up on, or your first car model from social media or other easily searchable records. Instead, select answers to obscure questions that you’re certain only you know.
Alternatively, you can give "random" answers that nobody would be able to guess, such as, "I am a purple monkey", “Underwood typewriter!” or "banana boat 5009". While these answers sound funny and don’t directly correlate with security questions, they can easily prevent fraud. The only important part is to securely store those answers somewhere you can access, so you don't forget them and end up locking yourself out instead.
6. Distribute your funds to different accounts
It's tempting and easy to keep all of your money in one place. However, dividing your money and assets amongst different bank accounts is an extra layer of security you can provide for yourself. Even if one account is broken into, your other funds are likely to be safe (unless you're using the same password, of course).
This solution also gives you a cushion if you have to wait for stolen money to be refunded to your account, or you have to go through some period of arbitration. It's always a good idea to have some backup split out with different banks.
7. Set up alerts for suspicious activity
Your banking app or website should give you the option to receive alerts in case there is suspicious activity on your account. Sign up to receive these messages through email, text, or phone calls. The earlier you catch suspicious activity, the easier you can prevent fraud from draining your bank account.
8. Regularly check your accounts
What is your balance? What kind of items are being charged to your card — and are they the correct amount? Checking your accounts every day can also help prevent fraud before it snowballs out of control.
9. Access your accounts from a secure location
The safest device on which to access your bank account is often a private device you use at home. That’s because you aren't sharing that device or your network with strangers.
If you must check your bank account balance on public Wi-Fi, check that the network is closed and password protected. It’s not recommended to check your bank account on a public device, but if you have no alternative, make sure to fully sign out and then change your password when you get home. Doing so will reduce your chance of experiencing fraudulent activity.
10. Choose unpredictable PIN numbers
It's tempting to pick 1234, your birth year, or your graduation year as a PIN number. Unfortunately, hackers are familiar with some of the most common PIN numbers and they won’t have a hard time finding numbers that have emotional significance to you, as well. For that reason, it's best to pick random numbers and commit them to memory, or store them securely in your password manager.
While taking all these different steps may feel overwhelming at first, they'll soon become second nature. Best of all, most banks are integrating advanced security features as the default, which will guide you in securing your assets.
Trustworthy can help
It's not just bank accounts that need additional protection from fraud – so does other sensitive information like passports, Social Security cards, and financial records.
Trustworthy steps up your family’s security and helps you keep important family information organized. With custom permissions and mobile accessibility, you can share the right information with specific people at the right time.