If you notice any strange or unusual activity on your bank statement, notify your bank immediately.
Cyber attacks on banks happen everyday, but not to worry, most banks are well protected against hackers. A threat of a cyber attack should not deter you from using a financial institution.
But in the case your account has been hacked, here’s how to regain control of your bank account.
Signs you’ve been hacked
Strange purchases that appear on your bank statement may be the first clue that a hacker has infiltrated your account. Always read credit card and bank statements, paying close attention to match the transactions to your activity.
Sometimes you’ll notice seemingly small, yet unfamiliar purchases. Thieves often do that to test if your card will work before making larger purchases.
Depending on your bank, it will notify you of suspicious activity and automatically cancel fraudulent charges and issue you a new card.
Lost or stolen card numbers
If you realize your card has been lost or stolen, contact your bank right away; Don’t wait for your bank to notify you of fraudulent activity.
Once you notify your bank of you missing card, it will freeze your account, blocking any purchases or payments. You can either visit a local branch for a temporary card or wait for a new card to come in the mail.
If any unauthorized purchases are made, most banks will refund you the lost money.
Here’s why your bank accounts are safe from hackers
Banks are liable
If a hacker steals money from a bank, the customer won’t lose money; The bank is liable to pay the money back to the customer.
Banks are improving security
Since banks are constantly under attack, they need to improve every aspect of their security so they have the latest software designed to protect you and your money. Every attack doesn’t make the news, but generally the big ones do. Banks are constantly improving their systems for detecting and dealing with these problems.
Ensure your account is not vulnerable
Most banking websites allow you to activate a feature called “remember your password” when you log in via the Internet. This allows you to skip several layers of security the next time you log in since the bank recognizes your computer’s IPv4 address — a unique identifier for each Internet connection.
Malware is a tool that hackers use to imitate your IPv4 address so they can gain access to your bank account. Often you don’t even know that they have control over your bank account. It’s best to disable the “remember your computer” feature.
Beware of spam
Email software is pretty good at getting rid of spam most of the time, however you may see something that resembles an official bank email that asks you to go to the bank’s website to confirm your information. This most likely is a scam. Hackers design sites that mimic bank’s websites. If something like this happens to you, don’t enter details such as a password unless you’re sure it’s a secure website.
The Internet monitors the security certificate of websites, making it easier to detect invalid sites.
Don’t stash your money under your mattress
If you put your money under your mattress because you believe all banks are evil, you may be increasing the risk of having your money stolen.
Cash does not equal safe money. Unfortunately, the news perpetuates the fear that unless your money is in cash, it isn’t safe. However it’s more likely that your house could be robbed and the criminals taking your money than it would be for a bank to lose your money due to cybercrime.
Have you been hacked while overseas?
If you believe you have fraudulent transactions on your debit card — whether it’s a foreign transaction or you’re currently overseas — block the card and lodge a dispute investigation. Before you go on vacation it’s always smart to gather a list of phone numbers in case of issues like this. Otherwise, a simple Google search should be able to find you the right number.
If your bank finds the transaction to be fraudulent, you should be refunded the missing money.
Steps to keep yourself safe
- Keep your passwords and pins safe. That means not giving them out to anyone, including family or friends or anyone soliciting them over email. Also try not to write them down.
- Check for site security. Most legitimate sites will have privacy and security terms that you can review. Secure URLs start with https — not http.
- Avoid public networks for banking. That means no quick peeks at your finances while you’re out shopping or working. Using public networks can compromise your personal security and put your information at risk.
- Don’t give your contact info to strangers. Confirm who is calling or writing first before providing any information.
- Don’t necessarily answer security questions honestly. The name of your first pet won’t be verified, so you can choose a different word. Just make sure that whatever you use is memorable to avoid being locked out of your account.
- Use more characters — and symbols — in your password. The more characters in your password, the better. Random letters interspersed with numbers and special characters will take much longer for software to crack than a simple series of numbers. Likewise, the same random assortment will make it harder for someone to simply guess your password.
- Listen to your gut. Remember that your intuition is a quick series of patterns recognized by your subconscious. If your gut tells you something is off, it truly could be.
- Report suspicious activity. Report any suspicious people or unverifiable companies soliciting your banking information. You may also want to contact your bank.
- Run antivirus and anti-malware software. Doing so could end up preventing computer viruses and losing your information.
- Double-check your transactions. Look over your statements for any fraudulent purchases, and report anything suspicious right away.
- Ask for a second opinion. If you’re not sure if something is legitimate, don’t be shy about asking a friend or family member. It could end up saving you from a costly mistake.
Banks do have their flaws, but security software is constantly being improved to reflect the shared interests of its shareholders and customers.