Online banking has become an integral part of modern banking.
Along with it has come the widespread practice of paying bills online – and for good reason.
In a world where the ability to do things more quickly and efficiently is becoming a part of daily life, a quick and convenient way to pay your bills is par for the course.
This does, however, come with a caveat: how can you be sure paying a bill online is safe, secure, and not compromising your financial information?
Luckily, financial institutions have implemented a number of security measures to ensure that your private information stays private.
What Makes Paying Bills Online Safe?
To protect your financial information from falling into the wrong hands, financial institutions have taken steps to ensure that safety is a top priority.
Some of common online safety practices include:
A financial institution executing encryption practices is the meat and potatoes of keeping online bill payment safe.
Good encryption will turn your private information into a series of unrecognizable characters before you send it out to your financial institution over the murky waters of the internet.
This means that even if someone gets their hands on your information, it will show up as a bunch of useless characters.
Financial encryption is carefully coded so that it can only be decrypted by the financial institution intended to receive it.
Enhanced Authentication Protocol
Many institutions also require multi-factor authentication to access an online banking account. For example, a three-step process would look something like this:
- Enter a password or pin number, previously chosen by you, that only you should know.
- A device identification confirmation code is sent to a device of your choosing via text, call, or email.
- Touch ID, which is established as unique through a fingerprint scan done on a smartphone.
These measures are widely considered to be best practice, because they make the possibility of identity theft extremely difficult.
There are, however, a number of precautions that you should take as a user to further ensure that you are using online bill pay safely.
Tips For Safe Use of Online Bill Pay
Keep Personal Information on Secure Connections
Accessing private information using public Wi-Fi is one of the easiest and most common mistakes to make.
Places with public Wi-Fi are significantly easier to steal information from compared to somewhere with a private, secure Wi-Fi connection.
Entering private information (social security number, credit card information, passwords) while using a public connection in a place like a public park or airport will make you much more susceptible to identity theft.
Hold off on entering any of that information until you are in a place with a safe connection, like your home or office.
Change Passwords Regularly – and Make Them Complex
Staying up to date on the best practice for preventing a stolen password is a key part of keeping your finances safe.
Even though it’s a bit of a pain, you’ll want to have a unique password for each account that you have, and not something easy to guess (like something with your name or birth date in it).
Instead, you’ll want to generate passwords that use a diverse mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and preferably doesn’t mean much of anything at all.
A password that is complete nonsense is much safer than one with actual words or names in it, and the minor inconvenience of forgetting a password is a whole lot better than stolen financial information.
Don’t Click on Email Links
Even if it looks legit, an email from your “bank” prompting you to log in to an account or asking for private information like a social security number can very easily be an attempt to steal your information.
Take the safe route and only log in to your financial accounts by directly typing the URL into your web browser, or using a secure app provided by your institution.
What Are the Benefits of Online Bill Pay?
Having your identity stolen is a scary prospect, but if you follow these tips and are putting your money into a trustworthy institution, don’t fear; online bill pay also provides a lot of benefits.
There is the aforementioned convenience and speed that paying bills online allows, but there are a few other things that you can take advantage of too.
With features like automated bill pay, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to pay a bill and accidentally incurring late fees. In fact, you’ll hardly have to think about those consistent monthly bills at all, and setting up those payments can be done right online.
There’s also the option of deciding what you’ll pay on larger costs, like a monthly loan payment. If you want to pay more than the minimum payment, you can just log into your online banking account and make that decision with the click of a mouse or tap of the thumb.
Keep Your Money Safe at HRCCU
If these safety features and beneficial assets are all sounding good to you, you’re in luck.
HRCCU offers all these things (and more) as a part of our new online banking service.
Want to learn more about what else our new and improved online banking can do for you?
We’ve got an online banking blog for that.