Q:

How safe is an online payment account?

A:

Quick Answer

Online payment accounts are generally safe as long as they are with legitimate, federally-insured financial institutions that take standard security precautions to protect the accounts and personal information of clients. Consumers can help guard their payment accounts by taking basic steps to protect their online security.

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How safe is an online payment account?
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Full Answer

Whether a financial institution is online-only or traditional, one should ensure that it is federally insured by looking for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation logo on its website or searching for the bank's name in the FDIC's online database. New account holders should verify a bank's correct web address before opening an account or conducting a transaction, as scammers set up copycat websites to try to obtain account numbers, passwords and Social Security numbers.

A bank's privacy policy should confirm that it isn't sharing personal information with other companies. Banks should also use encryption when conducting financial transactions. For payment transactions, it is helpful to use a secure password or personal identification number without identifying names or numbers that are easy for others to guess.

For general computer security, those using online banking should use up-to-date virus protection software. Also, rather than clicking on hyperlinks in email messages that appear to be from the bank, users should go directly to the bank's secure website to do online business. Online bank statements should be checked frequently for signs of any unusual activity. If there is anything amiss, customers should contact their financial institution immediately.

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