Online banking is very convenient and works well for most people, most of the time. It is easy to check balances, transactions, set up automatic payments and transfer money.
What to do
Many online bank accounts offer safety features, such as enabling you to limit the amount that can be withdrawn from your account in a day and to stop any international online or offline shops from charging credit cards. These are great safeguards in case your banking details are stolen.
Using passwords and PINs
You need strong passwords for your bank account. You also need strong passcodes and passwords to protect the devices, like your laptop and smartphone, which you use to access the account.
Include upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters in your password, if they are allowed. Never use your name, children’s names, pet’s names or favourite foods for your password. Never use anything that relates to you, such as birthdays, postcodes or other significant dates or numbers, for your PIN. For advice on setting strong passwords see protecting your personal information.
It is a good idea to set up two-factor authentication when you log into online bank accounts. If you log in using your username or password, you are using single-factor authentication. Many online bank accounts allow you to use a text message or SMS sent to your mobile as a second form of authentication.
Two-factor authentication for extra security
Public computers and wi-fi
If possible, don’t use public computers for banking, and never do any banking using public wi-fi as it increases the chance of strangers accessing your banking information.
Always log out after doing any online banking.
Use security software
Install security software on all the devices you use for online banking and shopping, and keep it updated.
Use Stay Smart Online
The Australian Government’s Stay Smart Online website has great information about phone and computer security, including guides to help install security software to protect your devices.
Be aware that some scammers try to get banking information from consumers by sending fake, or ‘phishing’, emails asking for their account details. These emails look as though they are from your bank and may have links to websites that look like real bank websites, but they are not.
Most banks don’t send their customers unsolicited emails and instead rely on their customers logging in to see messages from the bank. If you are worried about an email that looks like it’s come from a bank, or about the legitimacy of a banking website, query it — contact the bank directly, using a known phone number, to check the email and verify the bank’s website address and details.
Do you live with someone who controls your finances?
Being denied access to your finances by your partner is a form of financial abuse. Financial abuse is a way of controlling a person by restricting their access to their finances and may combine with other forms of abuse, including psychological and physical abuse. Not having access to your finances, or being questioned about every cent you spend, can make you lose confidence in yourself, question yourself and make you feel anxious.
To get some control back you may need to set up a separate, private, bank account with the help of a trusted family member or friend. It’s particularly important to do this if you plan to leave and don’t have access to your own funds.
Be careful to make sure your abuser doesn’t find out, especially if they are abusive in other ways. Contact 1800RESPECT for advice to help you leave safely.
If you think your partner may have access to your devices or somehow knows what you do on your devices, don’t use your device to set up the private account. Go into a bank branch to open the account in person. If you need to access your online account, do it using a trusted family member or friend’s device. Read more about online abuse as part of domestic and family violence.