NBC33 Safety Alert: Online Banking Concerns

POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - 1:19pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:59pm

Banking in America has gone digital. Sitting at the kitchen table, ripping open the mail, filling out a check register. That's the old way. A few e-mails, a glance at a spreadsheet, a few mouse clicks. That's the new way.
And now, it's the most popular way.

For the first time ever, U.S. bank account holders would rather visit a web site than a bank branch, according to a survey conducted by the American Bankers Association. "There are a lot of advantages to online banking", said Nessa Feddis, of the American Bankers Association. "It's fast, it's quick, it's great for budgeting, record keeping. It's also green, it's good for the environment."

Online banking has surpassed the old fashioned brick-and-mortar branches despite security issues and data leaks. Just recently, a Florida man was indicted for stealing 130-million credit card numbers. Then there's the endless flood of Phishing e-mails, web site outages, and computer viruses.

Despite it all, bank consumers continue to flock online, driven by the ease and convenience of online banking, direct deposit, online bill paying and other electronic features. "The service is much quicker, as long as it takes to load a web page not as long as it takes to move to the head of the line", said Greg McBride of Bankrate.com.

Banks have done much to make their web sites safe, but nothing is fool-proof. If you want to bank online, carefully guard your password, never type it in an e-mail, and watch your accounts carefully for any signs of fraud. You only have 60 days to report missing money after that, you can't get it back.