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Online Banking Security: How To Keep Your Accounts Safe

Banks spend millions on online security — but it’s not always enough to keep scammers out. Follow these steps to secure your online bank account.

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      How Secure Is Online Banking?

      Many of us take the security of online and digital banking for granted. But while banks spend millions on cybersecurity measures, there’s no way to guarantee with 100% certainty that your money is safe. 

      Cybercriminals use sophisticated social engineering and hacking attacks — like phishing, voice cloning, and credential stuffing — to target bank customers and gain access to user accounts and mobile banking apps. 

      According to the latest data [*]: 

      Approximately 70% of North American financial institutions reported that overall fraud rates grew in 2023. 

      In this guide, we’ll explain how scammers are able to avoid online banking security measures, and what you can do to keep your accounts safe. 


      Is Online Banking Safe? How Can Your Account Get Hacked?

      Whether you use an online-only bank or a traditional bank’s website or mobile app, your money should be safe. 

      Banks and financial institutions utilize a host of modern security features to safeguard your funds and privacy. This includes biometric verification (fingerprint or facial recognition), two-factor authentication (2FA), fraud monitoring systems, and transport layer security (TLS) which uses firewalls to secure and encrypt the connection between your device and bank servers. 

      Additionally, up to $250,000 of your balance at most traditional banks is protected and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). 

      However, even with modern security measures and FDIC-insured protection in place, online banking security has its limitations and risks. 

      Here are five of the biggest online banking risks to watch out for: 

      • Phishing scams impersonating bank employees. Fraudsters pose as bank employees to manipulate you into sharing sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) — such as your 2FA codes, PINs, or bank account numbers. Some scammers claim the only way to protect your money is to transfer it to a “safe” account via Zelle, Cash App, wire transfers, or other non-reversible methods.
      • Fake online bank login pages that steal your credentials. Hackers direct people to bogus look-alike pages that they control. If you enter any personal details, like your credit card number or login credentials, the crooks gain instant access to them.
      • Weak or reused passwords. Over 80% of data breaches result from stolen passwords [*]. Many people rely on predictable passwords, like names of pets or birthdays, which are easy for cybercriminals to crack with brute-force attacks.
      • Data breaches that leak your account details. Nobody is immune to data breaches — from individuals to high-level enterprises and governments. If your information is leaked, it could end up for sale on the Dark Web, making you a target for scams.
      • Identity thieves and online fraudsters. With access to enough of your PII and banking details, imposters can apply for lines of credit in your name, rent a house, or even access your tax return and medical files. 

      The truth is that hackers are more likely to target you rather than your bank. 

      If you give up any personal details to a scammer — such as your name, address, or Social Security number (SSN) — or enter financial information on a fraudulent site, your account and finances could be at serious risk.

      🛡 Safeguard your finances with award-winning protection. Aura’s all-in-one digital security solution has been rated #1 by,, Forbes, and others. Try Aura free for 14 days and protect yourself and your family against future fraud.

      How To Increase Your Online Banking Security

      1. Use strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts
      2. Safely store your online banking details 
      3. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
      4. Update your security questions and answers
      5. Bookmark the bank’s website, or use its mobile app
      6. Don’t click on links or give out your personal information
      7. Sign up for transaction and fraud alerts
      8. Avoid logging in to your bank over public Wi-FI
      9. Keep your operating system and apps up to date
      10. Know what methods your bank uses to contact you
      11. Check your accounts regularly for signs of fraud
      12. Consider an all-in-one digital security provider

      Your bank will do its best to protect your money, but it’s important to make yourself and your family less vulnerable targets for hackers and scammers.

      Here are 12 steps to take in order to improve your online bank security:

      1. Use strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts

      Passwords are often the first — and sometimes only — defense against hackers gaining unauthorized access to your checking or savings account. 

      Using weak, common, or reused passwords puts your accounts and identity at serious risk. Hackers often test passwords leaked in a data breach on your more vulnerable accounts (such as your bank), in hopes of finding a match. 

      Best practices for creating strong passwords:

      • The longer, the better (at least 10 characters). Scammers use automated software that tests millions of password combinations to try and crack your account. A complex, 10-character password would take over 50 years to crack using this kind of brute-force attack [*].
      • Avoid common combinations. Never use obvious passwords, like your first name, last name, age, birthday, phone number, or address. Similarly, avoid common keyboard patterns like QWERTY or 12345.
      • Try a passphrase instead. One of the best practices for password security is to use passphrases including words that don't usually go together, as opposed to easily forgettable, long-character passwords. For example, you could use song lyrics or your favorite quote to make your passwords easy to remember.

      💡 Related: How To Protect Your Bank Account From Identity Theft

      2. Safely store your online bank details in a password manager

      Remembering all of your passwords is challenging, which is why many people reuse the same login credentials across multiple platforms. A password manager makes it easier to use longer and more complex passwords for every account — as you’ll be able to access all of your credentials when you need them by using a single, secure master password. 

      In a recent online survey, 51% of respondents admitted to not using a password manager on their smartphones [*]. 

      As an added bonus, a password manager will only automatically enter your credentials on the bank’s official website. If scammers send you to a fake login page, your password manager shouldn’t work. 

      Here are some best practices for using a password manager:

      • Opt for AES 256-bit encryption. Your password manager should have at least this level of encryption to ensure that your vault can't be accessed — even by the software vendor.
      • Create a strong master password. The password you use to access and secure your vault of passwords needs to be long and complex. Don’t take any chances, and avoid writing down this password and leaving it anyplace where it could be seen by someone else.
      • Generate unique passwords. The best password managers have a one-click update feature that lets you create unique, complex passwords for any account. Aura’s password manager sends alerts if any account is compromised, letting you instantly update your password to prevent a hack.
      🔓 Protect your online life with Aura’s digital security solution — for free. Aura combines AI-powered digital security and scam protection (including a secure password manager) with award-winning identity and fraud protection. Try Aura free for 14 days.

      3. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

      Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires a secondary authentication mode to access your online bank account. This could be a one-time-use SMS code, biometrics such as facial recognition, or a code from an authenticator app.

      A 2FA code sent from TD Bank via SMS.
      Example of an online bank account 2FA code sent via SMS.

      Having 2FA enabled makes it much harder for unauthorized individuals to access your account — even if they have your password. 

      Here are some best practices for 2FA:

      • Implement biometric authentication whenever possible. Recent innovations allow financial institutions to verify your identity by using your fingertips, facial recognition, and retina patterns. 
      • Use authenticator apps instead of SMS. These apps constantly update the codes, making it almost impossible for someone to crack your account unless they have your phone. Apps like Google Authenticator, Authy, and Duo are much safer than SMS-based 2FA.
      • Never share one-time codes. Sometimes, your bank will send you a one-time passcode (OTP) to your mobile device via text message or email. Make sure to guard this — even if you get a call from someone claiming to be a bank representative.

      💡 Related: How Does Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) Work?

      4. Update your security questions and answers

      Your bank will ask any caller to answer security questions before discussing your account. But most people don't update these questions periodically, which may leave them at risk if someone finds out the answers.

      Here are some best practices for security questions:

      • Use multiple security questions. Whenever possible, set up numerous questions so that anyone who tries to access your data must go through several security steps.
      • Create complex answers. Similar to when setting up a password, never use easy-to-access information like your name, date of birth, or where you live. Select questions to which only you know the answers. 
      • Keep your answers up to date. Review and update your security question answers regularly to ensure that your account remains secure.

      5. Bookmark the bank’s website, or use its mobile app

      Many phishing attacks involve scammers directing victims to fake websites designed to look like a bank’s online login page. But if you enter your information on these fake websites, it goes straight to the scammer. 

      By bookmarking the bank’s official page or using a verified mobile app, you ensure that you’re not accidentally giving away your banking details. 

      Here are some best practices for online banking security:

      • Only download verified apps. Only download apps through your bank’s official website or from trusted platforms like the App Store or Google Play.
      • Bookmark banking websites. Save the links to your financial institutions' official websites in a folder on your bookmarks bar.
      • Avoid links in unsolicited emails. Scammers send phishing emails and text messages containing bogus links and attachments. If you want to do your banking online, avoid these links and use your bookmarks or the mobile app.

      💡 Related: How To Identify Fake Websites (11 Warning Signs)

      6. Don’t click on links or give out your personal or account information

      Fraudsters also use phishing tactics to gather personal information that they can use to scam you, access your accounts, or even steal your identity.

      a fake phishing email claiming to be from Chase Bank and explaining that your account has been disabled until you verify your identity
      Example of a fake Chase bank email asking you to “verify” your account. Source: X

      For example, you may receive a fake email or text claiming that there have been fraudulent withdrawals made from your account or that your banking services were hacked. But if you engage, you’ll be asked to “verify” your identity by providing debit card numbers, credit card information, internet banking login details, or more. 

      How you can protect yourself from phishing attacks:

      • Be cautious of any communication claiming to be from your bank. Phishing messages seek to create urgency by saying that your account is compromised. While most phishing happens via email, some con artists use phone calls (vishing) or text messages (smishing) to trick people. 
      • Study the email sender's address. Often, scammers can’t completely replicate your bank’s email address, so they create a close variation with a missing letter or number. Alternatively, it may have a foreign domain, like “.ng” or “.xyz.”
      • Check for grammatical errors. Many fraudsters are from countries where English is not the native language. When you receive an email from someone claiming to represent your bank, look for typos or strange formatting and language — these are dead giveaways of a scam.

      7. Sign up for transaction and fraud alerts

      While most banks and credit unions offer basic transaction alerts, they can miss other signs that your accounts have been compromised — such as fraudulent loans or lines of credit taken out in your name. 

      In addition to ensuring that your bank can contact you via text, phone, or email to alert you to potential fraud, it’s also a good idea to place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit file. 

      Anyone can freeze their credit to prevent others from accessing it and opening accounts with lenders or taking out fraudulent loans. A credit freeze is free and won’t impact your credit rating or score. 

      To freeze your credit, contact each of the three credit bureaus individually — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Here’s how to get in touch with them:

      Experian Security Freeze — P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
      Equifax Information Services LLC — P.O. Box 105788, Atlanta, GA 30348-5788
      TransUnion LLC – P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
      ⚡️ Aura alerts you to fraud up to 250x faster than other services 3. Aura monitors and protects your most sensitive personal data, financial accounts, and all of your devices. Try Aura free for 14 days and secure yourself and your family against scammers.

      8. Avoid logging in to your bank over public Wi-FI

      In 2023, Forbes revealed that 40% of respondents had their information compromised when using public Wi-Fi networks [*]. While accessing public Wi-Fi in cafes, airports, and coworking spaces is convenient, these networks are often unsecured and vulnerable to attack. 

      Here are some best practices for using public Wi-Fi:

      • Stick with secure sites. Look for “https” in the site’s URL along with the padlock icon in your browser. 
      • Enable mobile data. Your phone’s data plan is much more secure than a public Wi-Fi network. Whenever possible, use a mobile hotspot when entering sensitive information online. 
      • Use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN masks your IP address and encrypts all of your data so that nobody can see your activity or online banking information when you use the internet. Every Aura plan comes with a military grade VPN.

      9. Keep your operating system and apps up to date

      Software updates address known security vulnerabilities in apps and devices. By exploiting the vulnerable code, hackers can break in if your operating system or web browsers aren't up to date.   

      By updating your software, you can ensure that your devices have the latest security patches and bug fixes, keeping you safe from emerging cyber threats.

      Here are a few tips for managing software updates:

      • Set up automatic updates. Wherever possible, switch on automatic updates for your operating system (OS) and software applications so that you never forget to run updates.
      • Practice proactive patching. Regularly check for updates on all of your devices, and manually add new "patches" whenever you come across one.
      • Use antivirus software. As part of your routine, run antivirus software to check all of your devices for unfamiliar programs or suspicious activity.

      💡 Related: How To Detect Malware on Your Computer or Phone

      10. Know what methods your bank uses to contact you

      In 2023 alone, Americans lost nearly $2 billion to impersonation scams [*]. Many scammers impersonate banks and financial institutions to trick victims into sending money or providing other sensitive information. 

      Typically, these scams happen via phone calls or emails. But most legitimate financial institutions won’t actually contact their customers in these ways. To stay safe from bank scams, familiarize yourself with how your bank communicates. 

      Here is how to avoid falling victim to bank impersonation scams:

      • Know how your bank contacts you. Banks use specific “shortcodes” when sending text messages, which you can find on their official websites in the FAQ section. In most cases, your bank will send direct mail. You can confirm the trusted methods on the bank’s official website.
      • Beware of any requests for remote access. Some bank scammers pretend to be from the bank’s tech support team and request remote access to your computer. If you end up on the phone with someone claiming to be from your bank, never give out personal information or grant access to your computer.
      • Hang up and contact the bank directly. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If ever you answer a call and have any doubts, it’s best to hang up. You can call your bank by using the number on the back of your card.

      11. Check your accounts regularly for signs of fraud

      Once they gain access to your account, thieves often test a small transaction before trying to empty your savings or checking accounts. Other fraudsters may play the long game, flying under the radar while siphoning off your account balance.

      With a proactive approach to reviewing your financial life, you can catch the early warning signs of fraud. 

      Here are a few tips for reviewing your finances:

      • Examine your financial records for signs of fraud. Inspect your credit reports, bank statements, and credit card statements for signs of fraud. This process takes time but helps you identify unfamiliar or unauthorized transactions. 
      • Review your credit reports. By checking your credit files from each of the three reporting bureaus, you can see if anyone has attempted to open new accounts. 
      • Report suspicious activity. Note any potential fraud, including the details of the transactions, dates, and amounts. You can query the transactions with the impacted vendor to make sure you didn’t forget something. If you’re unsatisfied, report the matter to the bank.

      💡 Related: What Is Credit Monitoring? Do You Need It?

      12. Consider an all-in-one digital security provider

      Cybercriminals and scammers are almost always financially motivated. While your bank does everything it can to secure your account, it can’t guarantee that you, your devices, or your other accounts won’t be compromised. 

      Aura’s digital security software solution combines 24/7 financial account and three-bureau credit monitoring with award-winning identity theft and scam protection. 

      Here’s what you get with Aura:

      • Three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest fraud alerts. Aura monitors your credit with all three bureaus and can alert you to signs of fraud up to 250x faster than other services3.
      • Financial account transaction monitoring and credit lock. Aura also monitors and helps protect your linked bank accounts — including any checking, high-yield savings, investment, and other accounts. 
      • Award-winning identity theft protection. Aura protects your identity by monitoring your most sensitive personal information across the Dark Web, data breach notifications, public records, and more.  
      • AI-powered digital security. Every Aura account includes powerful antivirus software, a military-grade VPN, secure password manager, AI-powered scam protection, and more.
      • 24/7 U.S.-based White Glove Fraud Resolution and up to $5 million in insurance. If the worst should happen, Aura supports you with acclaimed support and insurance that covers stolen funds, legal fees, and other eligible losses from identity theft and fraud.
      🥇 Try Aura’s award-winning fraud and identity theft protection — for free. Sign up for Aura and get a risk-free 14-day free trial (all annual plans also include a 60-day money-back guarantee).

      Was Your Online Bank Account Hacked? Do This!

      If you think your account was compromised or see signs that you’ve been scammed out of money, you must respond quickly. 

      Here are 10 ways to protect your personal data from hackers and scammers:

      1. Call all financial institutions immediately. To get your money refunded, call the number on the back of your bank card. Explain what happened, and ask them to close your accounts and cards and issue new ones.
      2. Place a credit freeze with all three bureaus. A credit freeze stops scammers from using your personal information to take out loans or open accounts in your name. If you haven’t already, contact all three bureaus to request a credit freeze.
      3. Secure your online accounts. After a breach, update your passwords and enable 2FA (if you don't already use it). Even if only one account was compromised, updating all of your login credentials can help thwart further attacks.
      4. Review your financial records, and dispute fraudulent transactions. Check your credit reports, bank statements, and credit card statements for signs of fraud. This practice helps you spot unauthorized transactions and limit the damage. You can visit to order free copies of your credit files.
      5. File an official report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). An FTC report can help you dispute fraud and recover your identity. You can file an identity theft report online.
      6. Contact the fraud department at any impacted companies. Call any company where scammers used your stolen information or funds, and explain that you’re the victim of fraud. You’ll need to provide proof — including your FTC report — to get your money back.
      7. Contact your insurance provider. On average, victims of identity theft lose $500 [*]. For many others, it can be much more — not to mention the time and stress caused by the incident. If you don’t have identity theft insurance, your home insurance policy may be able to help.
      8. Notify local law enforcement. It’s wise to file a police report, especially if you believe the perpetrator is in the local area. Bring your FTC report and all supporting evidence to the police station, and ask to speak to someone in the fraud department. 
      9. Update your payment information with companies and services. If your bank account and credit card information have changed, inform the companies and services where you do business. This will prevent further unauthorized charges and service disruptions if companies try to charge deactivated accounts.
      10. Scan your devices for malware. Cybercriminals could be monitoring your devices with spyware. Scan all devices with a reliable antivirus program, and remove any old or unfamiliar programs. 

      Being proactive about digital security can save you time and money. One of the easiest things you can do today is scan the Dark Web to check if your passwords and other sensitive information have been leaked.

      Aura has a free Dark Web scanner that checks your email address to see if any of your passwords are at risk.

      The Bottom Line: Your Bank’s Security Measures Aren’t Always Enough

      Hackers rarely target banks. Instead, they use “human hacking” to trick people into sending money or giving up access to accounts — something your bank can’t protect you against.

      Signing up for Aura is the smartest and safest way to safeguard your identity, family, credit, finances, and bank accounts from scammers. 

      In addition to three-bureau credit monitoring with the industry’s fastest fraud alerts, Aura protects your devices and data with advanced security features, 24/7 support, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance coverage.

      Keep your bank account safe from scammers. Try Aura free for 14 days.
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      Award-winning identity theft protection with AI-powered digital security tools, 24/7 White Glove support, and more. Try Aura for free.

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