Skip to content

Good Habits for Secure Online Banking

Aug 12, 2021
Posted by: Stearns Bank

When banking online or on your mobile app, protect yourself from fraud and theft by following these safe practices.

As consumers and businesses adopt digital banking, the threat of fraud and digital attacks has spiked. According to the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), in the first quarter of 2020 the rate of digital attacks grew by 20 percent.

These threats can no longer be dismissed as something that happens to “other people.” Rather, everyone who does banking online or uses a mobile banking app should take preventive steps. By taking simple precautions and following good habits, you can feel safe and secure in your digital banking.

To prevent fraud, ICBA recommends these practices:

Enable the strongest authentication tools offered by your bank. Popular authentication methods include biometrics, security keys and single-use codes.

For its StearnsConnect online and mobile banking platform, Stearns Bank has adopted two-factor authentication. Some banks allow email or mobile phone number as the second form of authentication. However, Stearns Bank uses mobile phone only, as email can be compromised for wires or ACH files. Preventive measures such as this protect account holders and reduce the risk of potential fraud.

Use unique passphrases as passwords and differentiate them across multiple platforms. Length trumps complexity. A strong passphrase is at least 12 characters long.

Do a system check. Purge unused apps and outdated or sensitive information stored in old files and emails, and ensure all software on internet-connected devices is current.

The StearnsConnect mobile app is updated automatically behind the scenes. Stearns Bank customers never have to worry about whether they are using the latest version or have updated security features.

Manage social media settings and minimize information sharing. Just a few data points can create a pathway for exploitation by cybercriminals.

Be aware of what you post and share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Screenshots of vaccination ID cards, medical records, financial accounts, website logins, and other ID cards can be used by criminals to steal your identity and inflict financial harm.

Use Wi-Fi judiciously. Limit the types of business conducted over open public Wi-Fi connections, including logging in to key accounts like banking.

Use a secure WiFi connection (password protected) for working at home and managing your personal finances online.

Monitor account activity for irregular transactions, and report discrepancies to your financial institution immediately.

You can set up StearnsConnect to send alerts to your phone for debit card transactions, automatic payments, low-balance notices, etc. Stearns Bank has a dedicated fraud team, trained to recognize the latest fraud schemes. Stearns Bank posts notices and educational videos on its fraud page, and offers an online form to report suspected fraud.

Back up intellectual property and other digital information and store it safely so in the unfortunate event of a ransomware or other cyberattack you have a way to retrieve the data.

Read the fine print when purchasing items online. If prompted, do not save credit and debit card information on the merchant's website or app.

Be mindful when shopping online and look for signs of illegitimate websites. Spelling or grammatical errors, missing contact information, and suspicious URLs or email addresses are all red flags.

Look for special Indicators such as web addresses with "https://" that denote extra measures taken to help secure your information. URLs that end in ".BANK" are assigned for exclusive use by financial institutions.

StearnsConnect is a safe and secure digital platform for your business and personal banking. Available on your web browser and mobile phone app, StearnsConnect enables you to do your banking any time, from any location. These services are free with every Stearns Bank deposit account, backed by our personal service and financial stability.

Call today or visit a branch to start your account.

Contact a Personal Banker