What is internet banking?
Internet banking keeps you in touch with your bank accounts whenever you like, using your computer or smartphone.
- It’s easy: banks provide clear instructions and online demonstrations to guide you through all the services and options that you have with internet banking.
- It’s convenient: you can bank online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all from the comfort of your own home.
- You can save time: travelling to your bank and queuing up can be a thing of the past if you bank online.
- Help the planet: banking online means you can view all your statements on your computer, which means you can save paper by choosing to stop receiving statements through the post.
Is internet banking safe?
Yes. The chances of being a victim of internet banking fraud are very small and, even if you are an innocent victim of this type of fraud, you will get your money back.
What fraud protection do I have?
Banks provide an online fraud guarantee that means they will reimburse you in the event that you are an innocent victim of internet banking fraud, as long as you have taken reasonable steps to keep your account safe. Make sure though that you read your online bank’s individual terms and conditions to check exactly what you are covered for.
What can I use internet banking for?
Managing your account over the internet allows you to:
- Instantly transfer money between different accounts that you have with the same bank (such as your current and savings account).
- Set up regular payments to pay your bills or make one-off payments, all without leaving the house.
- Make payments to friends, family and others as and when it suits you.
- View up-to-the-minute balances and keep a close track on your spending, enabling you to budget more effectively.
- View or cancel any Direct Debits you may have set up, and create standing orders instantly.
- Use Faster Payments – a system that allows payments to be processed almost straightaway. Within minutes of you pressing the button to confirm a transaction, the money is in the account of the person you’re paying.
- Access current and previous statements at the click of a button.
- Request a replacement PIN or a replacement card.
What banks do to ensure internet banking is safe
- Banks take internet banking security very seriously, working hard to protect their customers from fraud. When you sign in to your online bank account you will be asked to enter security information such as a password or passcode, some memorable information and other security questions that only you should know the answer to. In most cases you will be required to use all or some of these each time you log in.
- Some banks have also introduced card readers and secure key devices in addition to your login details – these devices provide the user with a unique, randomly generated passcode that is different each time you log in, providing an extra layer of security.
- All the information you send to your bank is data encrypted. This means that the details are encoded, making it incredibly difficult for hackers to access it. Another way banks keep you safe is by automatically deactivating your login details after a certain number of failed login attempts – usually three. This prevents hackers and criminals from making repeated attempts to gain access to your accounts.
- In addition, banks use sophisticated fraud detection software to continually monitor for potentially fraudulent transactions on your online bank account, and will contact a customer to check if any suspect transaction is genuine or not.
What you can do to stay safe when banking online
In addition to all the security measures put in place by your bank, the best way to keep your information safe from others is to ensure you follow common sense advice yourself:
- When you login to your online bank account ensure that there is a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol in the browser window – indicating that the site is secure. Also make sure that the web address changes from ‘http’ to ‘https’.
- Make sure your computer’s firewall is switched on and that you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed. (Many banks provide their customers with complimentary fraud protection software – check their website.)
- Download the latest security updates, known as patches, for your browser and your operating system (e.g. Windows).
- Keep passwords, passcodes and PINs safe; always be wary of any unsolicited emails or calls asking you to disclose any personal details or card numbers. Your bank, building society or the police will never contact you to ask you to disclose your PIN.
- Ensure your computer is set up to receive automatic operating system updates which are usually free. These fix bugs or problems with the system that hackers could exploit. (The safety options are not always activated when you install your computer.)
- Know who you are dealing with – always access your online bank’s website by typing the name in yourself. Never go to a website from a link in an email and then enter personal details – the email could be sent by a fraudster who is trying to get you to login to a fake bank website.
- Don’t give away potentially sensitive information on social network sites – for example your mother’s maiden name or your date of birth.
- Check your statements regularly (this is much easier with internet banking) and keep an eye out for transactions you don’t recognize. If you spot something suspicious report it to your bank immediately.
How do I register for internet banking?
Registering with your bank or building society to use their online services is a quick and simple process. You will usually need to complete a registration form, which some banks will allow you to do online, whilst others may prefer you to do over the phone with a customer service representative. This will usually involve providing personal details – such as your address, date of birth and bank account details – which enable your bank to help confirm your identity. In most cases you will then be sent login details through the post that enable you to get started.
How do I find out more?
- Most banks have interactive demonstrations to show you how their online banking service works.
- Where possible we have also provided a phone number for each bank’s internet banking helpline.