The security of internet banking

Modern-day Australians are increasingly relying on online technology to access and manage their finances. These days, virtually every major Australian bank offers online banking through their website, letting account holders carry out banking activities on their electronic device at a time that suits them.

Online shopping with your credit card is easy, convenient and usually safe. However, it is well worth for both customers and banks to keep in mind the probability of credit card fraud and assorted cyber crime. On this page, we look at how banks and savvy online shoppers safeguard their credit card transactions.

Secure banking mechanisms

These days, banks offer an array of security measures to back up their ‘100% safety guarantee’ to account holders. These typically include:

  • Encryption and digital certificates
  • SMS security – where you confirm transactions by sending secure SMS messages
  • Free internet security software
  • Firewall.

How can I secure my online banking?

Credit card fraud is a recurring phenomenon despite the plethora of online security applications and digital certificates. Here are some steps you should follow to avoid getting scammed while paying online with your credit card:

  • Make sure you use a secure server. As the rule of thumb, you must only type in your account details if the website uses an SSL (Security Socket Layer) payment processing system. A good way of confirming this is checking the website’s URL: it should start with ‘HTTPS’ rather than ‘HTTP’. Otherwise your card – and your money – could be under threat.
  • Avoid dodgy websites. While using reputable online commerce websites typically presents a very low risk, it can still be difficult to distinguish between those and illegitimate ones as the ‘e-fraudsters’ are getting savvier with every year.
  • Manually enter the website URL rather than click the link or search for it. This means you’ll have less chance of clicking a counterfeit link and ending up getting ‘phished’.
  • Don’t store your credit card details on your computer. This is a no-brainer. Likewise, don’t use public computers or free wi-fi for online banking. It’s also worth remembering that internet browsers sometimes save your personal and banking details – however, this still doesn’t mean you should store your card details on your home computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Get a PayPal account. For over 15 years, PayPal has saved countless customers the need to enter their card details every time they made an online payment. As well as being linked with your credit or debit card, your PayPal account can be credited with funds from your bank account. This means that even if your PayPal account is somehow hacked, only the money in it can be stolen.
  • Organise your online payment receipts. Don’t delete confirmation emails straight away – store them in a special folder on your computer or electronic device. That way you can have them at the ready if you need to provide proof of purchase, or make a claim for an unauthorised transaction.
  • Make a habit of checking your credit card statement. Whether you receive it in your mail or online, carefully study your credit card statement to see if there are any fraudulent charges.
  • Put your bank’s online security to good use. To make online shopping a safer experience, credit card companies normally provide their customers with complementary security layers like Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode. These security services require the customer to enter a secure SMS code to complete an online purchase or fund transfer.
  • Inform your bank of any fraudulent transactions straight away. Because unauthorised transactions can take your bank or financial institution weeks to investigate properly, you should contact them as soon as you discover a suspicious lack of funds or something that doesn’t look right on your statement. If you feel you’ve been the victim of a credit card scam, report it to a specialised organisation such as Scamwatch.