We’ve all heard those stories left over from the Great Depression. How hard things were because there weren’t jobs available. People needed to learn how to be self-sufficient, reusing everything they possibly could, growing their own food and making whatever they needed from practically nothing. They hid their money in mattresses because they could no longer trust banks. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? Our financial institutions today are safer and more secure than ever. They’re practically impenetrable, right? While there are several challenges facing our core banking system, our money really is safe. Here’s how banks protect us.
You’ve got access to your financial institution’s webpage and through that, access to your money. You may also have their app on your phone or tablet, or both. Those are safe, right? You actually have some responsibility in answering this question. How secure is the network you’re using? Don’t do your banking over a shared, open network that leaves you vulnerable to hackers. Make sure your secure network has a strong password to access it. Then there’s your password. No one expects you to memorize the tons of passwords you need. You can jot those down in a notebook. However, you need to both keep the notebook in a safe place and make sure your password isn’t easily hackable. Most banking systems force you to use a mix of numbers, characters and letters but you can actually take it step further. Consider making a sentence your password. One or two words can be more easily guessed than a full, not grammatically correct sentence. Don’t forget to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, too.
On the financial institution’s part of the responsibility equation rests two big items: encryption software and multifactor authentication. Like the cypher from your favorite spy series, encryption software works the same way. It converts your data into a code that only the bank has the ability to read. This isn’t just for your financial transactions; they do this for all the data you provide. Multifactor authentication sounds complicated but it’s the way banks make sure you’re you. Using a dedicated laptop, your phone’s facial recognition or tablet’s pin helps your bank know you are who you say you are when you log-on. Add that to your unique sign-on and password and now you have multiple factors the bank has used to authenticate your identity.
If you don’t live in a small town, you may never experience the phenomenon of your local bank teller recognizing you like Norm in Cheers. Your bank has other ways of knowing who you are, though. Yes, your account number is unique, but did you know they’re not assigned exactly sequentially? You can’t guess the account number of the person next in line to open one by looking at yours and adding a one to the last digit because financial institutions have a random computer-generated algorithm for assigning the next account number. Your specially trained financial professionals will handle your personal information with discretion, aided by all the technology they have available.
Securing your assets might start with not sharing your ATM pin, but there’s a whole host of other ways banks make sure your money is safe.