9 tips to protect yourself online

Learn how to keep your personal and financial information safe when you bank online.

Online banking has improved the financial management game for many.

The benefits and convenience of being able to manage bank accounts anywhere, at any time, have inspired millions to make online banking an integral part of their regular financial routines. When’s the last time you logged into your bank account to check your balance or pay a bill?

If online banking is key to your money management strategy (join the club!), it’s helpful to evaluate your online security and learn how to protect yourself online. Cybercrime is serious business, and you need to remain vigilant about the safety of your personal and financial information whenever you’re logging in from your device of choice.

Discover® takes cybersecurity seriously too, and our security practices are designed to safeguard your personal information.

Evaluate your online security to protect yourself online.

So, what can you do to keep yourself safe while online?

To access your accounts with peace of mind and protect yourself online, review these nine online security tips:

Safeguard your access

Protecting your personal information online means being mindful of the networks, devices and websites you use. Before signing into your bank account online, run through this checklist:

1. Make sure your wireless network is secure

An unsecured wireless network could be accessed by outsiders that are trying to obtain your account information.

One way to keep them out is by using a wireless router that can encrypt (scramble) the data on your network. Keep in mind that some routers come with the encryption feature turned off. Check to make sure yours is on to help protect your data online.

2. Be cautious about public access

To protect your data online, avoid using public wireless networks that can be joined from communal places like coffee shops or hotel lobbies. Those connections may not be secure and could put your personal information at risk.

You’ll also want to stay clear of public computers or devices, and never access your accounts online using a device that you don’t own or trust. The information you enter could be stored or transmitted without your knowledge, potentially for use by criminals.

3. Use a secure website for online transactions

Generally speaking, you can tell you’re on a secure website when you see a padlock symbol in the frame of your web browser. A secure website will also begin with “https” rather than “http.”

You can check with your bank to see what steps it takes to secure your information with online and mobile banking. At Discover, for example, we encrypt your personal and account information online, with compatible browsers, and in the mobile app. This makes it virtually impossible for someone else to access it.

Cybercrime is serious business, and you need to remain vigilant about the safety of your personal and financial information whenever you’re logging in from your device of choice.

Strengthen your online account security

If you’re considering how to protect your data online, know that there are steps you can take with your bank account today. Start with these three:

4. Set up account alerts

One way to protect yourself online is to set up alerts so you can be notified of account activity or any changes to your balance. This will help you stay on top of your finances (track the funds going in, the funds going out) and potentially detect fraudulent activity.

With checking, savings and money market accounts from Discover, you can set up and manage alerts any time by changing your preferences on the mobile app or by logging in to the Account Center online.

Select the alerts you want to receive (if a transaction or ATM withdrawal is made over a designated amount, for example) and how you want to receive them. We’ve got you covered with email, text and push notifications.

5. Make use of biometrics

Biometrics refers to physical and behavioral characteristics that can be used to log into accounts or devices. Your fingerprint, facial pattern and voice are common examples. If you access your account from your mobile device, consider enabling touch or face ID on your bank’s mobile app if your device offers it.

Since biometrics are unique to the individual and can be used for authentication, this additional layer of security can help you protect your personal information online.

6. Use a strong password

It’s best practice to change your password frequently and to use a unique password across bank, email and social media accounts. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your bank account password some attention, consider changing things up.

Choose a password that is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. This means avoiding the use of personal information (think your address or your pet’s name). A longer password like a multi-word phrase can help you protect yourself online.

If your bank provides an assessment of your password strength, use this tool before finalizing your decision. Challenge yourself to get a “strong” reading.

Note that in addition to logging in with your password, some companies may provide enhanced account verification to help protect your personal information online. If you log into your Discover account from an unfamiliar device or are making updates to your personal information, for example, you may need to take an additional step to receive a verification code that will also be entered.

If you access your account from your mobile device, consider enabling touch or face ID on your bank’s mobile app.

Be alert for “phishing” scams

There are scammers out there that try to “phish” for personal or financial information with emails that prompt you to provide account numbers, passwords or other personal details. Phishing emails should be ignored, along with any accompanying attachments or links.

Keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming bait for a phishing scam and to protect your personal information online:

7. Focus on the message

Some “phishy” emails are cleverly designed to look like they come from reputable institutions, maybe even your bank. But if the email contains an urgent request with scary or false statements, it could be fraudulent. A message from an unfamiliar or erroneous email address is also a red flag.

8. Consider what’s being asked

To protect your information online, think twice if you receive an email asking you to provide personal or financial information.

Scrutinize emails that mention suspicious activity or login attempts, as well as messages that say there’s a problem with your account or payment information. You’ll also want to be mindful of messages that prompt you to click on a link or open an attachment.

9. Contact your bank directly

If you’re unsure whether an email about one of your accounts is legitimate, call your bank’s customer service phone number or log into your account directly to learn more. Do not click on a link or open an attachment from the email.

To protect yourself online, contact your bank if you’re unsure whether an email about your account is legitimate.

Protect yourself online for peace of mind

Online and mobile banking provide the financial access you need around the clock. To keep online security top-of-mind and to protect yourself online, regularly review your internet access, account security and news on the latest scams.

At Discover, your account activity is monitored for potential fraud, and we will alert you if we see anything unusual. If you do encounter fraud, our fraud specialists are here to guide you through the investigation process.

To get more tips on how to protect yourself online and to learn how Discover looks out for the security of its customers, visit our Security Center.