With banking being mainly done online nowadays, criminals are constantly exploring new ways to get their hands on our money. This leads to the critical need to secure online banking services while also ensuring users are made aware of the risks. The following recommendations should be followed by everyone to ensure that online banking activity is safe and secure. We need to always be one step ahead of fraudsters and scammers:

Use strong security details

Secure your passwords! If your credentials were stolen, a fraudster will try your password on other accounts you might own. Some password hygiene rules to follow include:

• Keep your passwords complex and unique. When creating a password try to use a combination of letters, symbols and numbers and use a different password for each website you use.

• Keep your login details secret and never write them down or carry them in your purse or wallet. Remember your credentials are the gateway to your accounts.

• Where possible, enable multifactor authentication and/or biometric authentication. These measures will drastically reduce the possibility of your accounts being compromised.

Protect your device

One of the biggest threats to online security is a compromised device, be it a computer or a smartphone. To protect a device, it is always recommended to keep your device’s operating system and applications updated.  Only download apps that you are familiar with and ensure that these are only downloaded from your device’s app store. Installing and regularly updating your virus protection software is also critical to keeping your personal devices and your online banking safe.

E-mail and text messages

Another popular method used by fraudsters to trick victims in giving their usernames and passwords is via e-mail, through a technique called phishing. Through this technique, criminals send out e-mails that pretend to be from your bank or another trusted institution, influencing human emotions through a sense of urgency and attempting to persuade victims to provide personal information and other security details ‒ most often by directing the victim to a webpage very similar to the original one.

To avoid falling victim, one must verify that they are familiar with the sender, no sense of urgency or threats are present and if there are any links present in the e-mail, check that the URL (website link) is genuine by hovering over the link to check that they are related to the company you are dealing with.

In addition to phishing, recently several banks and their customers have been the target of smishing scams, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Smishing is a form of a cyberattack where the victim is tricked into believing that an SMS was sent from a trusted organisation. Some indicators to look for would be general greetings, messages asking for personal information and urgency.

When one suspects that he or she could be a victim of fraud, one must act quickly and notify the bank without any delay about any suspected fraud. It is also recommended that one takes other measures, such as changing passwords to prevent further misuse.

Keep in mind that if a request seems suspicious, it probably is! Be wary of any unusual requests and trust your initial judgement.

MeDirect Bank never contacts you via e-mail or SMS to update your details, provide credentials or claim that your accounts are going to be deleted or blocked unless you take immediate action. MeDirect Bank is committed to protect its customers and provide a secure banking experience.

Jonathan Carter, Manager, IT security, MeDirect Bank

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