Online banking is gaining some new players. On March 17, Facebook Inc. announced plans to incorporate a free money transfer feature in their Messenger app. Billed as a “more convenient and secure way to send or receive money between friends,” the feature allows users to link debit accounts to their Facebook pages and send money to friends with a few clicks. Facebook isn’t alone in their foray into finance. Apple, Google, Samsung and Snapchat are among the top brands now offering money transfer options to their customers. As technology advances in the name of convenience, it’s important to consider security before joining the pack. In 2014, the U.S. experienced 783 data breaches and millions of personal identity theft cases. Avoid these consequences by following a few banking best practices. Ask yourself:
- Are there security measures in place? Major banks provide online support using secure servers and SSL-encrypted connections. Secure URLs begin with https:// and usually display a lock icon to illustrate Web page safety. Identify these characteristics before using an online banking site, and click here to learn more about SSL technology.
- What happens if my information is stolen? It’s no secret that even large companies are vulnerable to hackers. Last year alone, Target and Home Depot were victims of massive data breaches, costing the companies millions of dollars and damaging their reputations. Suppose your new banking site experiences a similar fate. What happens if your account information is stolen? Reputable providers will offer:
- A refund. We’ve talked about identity theft limbo and its effects on your credit. When a criminal cleans out your bank account, it can be difficult to recover, especially when you have bills to pay. While banks generally provide refunds on stolen cash, what’s your new banking source’s policy? How will they respond to this situation? Answer these questions before signing up.
- Identity theft protection and credit monitoring. In response their data breach, Target offered all U.S. customers one year of free Experian credit monitoring and identity theft protection. How does your new banking app stack up? If the worst occurs, are they willing to keep your business by helping you avoid future identity theft? If the answer is no, it’s time to find another option.
- Why is this option better than others? Let’s ask the most important question: Why are you using this site? What does it offer that others don’t? As we’ve learned, convenience isn’t more important than security. In addition to safety, money transfer should also be:
- Free. Why spend money to use your own? Although reputable sites like PayPal charge fees for certain transactions, others are free of charge. Don’t let the hype of a new feature affect your bank account. Ensure free options before signing on.
- Accessible. Are you faced with login issues, crashed servers and bad customer service? A reliable banking source won’t burden customers with these problems. Research company policies and customer reviews while considering a switch. The result will help you make a wise banking decision