Avoid online bank fraud

How to stay safe when banking online.
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  • Updated:26 Sep 2008

01.Online banking fraud

Computer screen

In brief

  • Online banking is essentially safe but there are some areas where consumers remain vulnerable.
  • Install anti-virus software and a firewall and keep them up-to-date to protect yourself from such infections.

Have you ever received an email that looked like it came from your bank, instructing you to urgently click on a link because of a security upgrade or some other matter? These are ‘phishing’ emails. Their links lead to fraudulent websites that look like your bank’s but are designed to steal usernames and passwords to gain illegal access to your accounts.

The first phishing emails were fairly easy to spot with their poor language but they’ve become much more sophisticated. Some even transfer programs which capture account information and passwords.

They can also change settings on your computer and lead you to ‘ghost sites’ that look like a legitimate website such as from your bank but are simply designed to capture your personal information.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.

Online banking safety checklist

  • Never respond to any email requesting your details and passwords and don’t follow links in an email.
  • Always enter the web address in your browser to access your bank’s site.
  • To make sure you’re at a legitimate site click/double click on the padlock symbol and check the security certificate making sure the address in it matches your bank’s website address.
  • Ensure your operating system (for example, Windows), email program and browser have the latest security updates and patches.
  • Install antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software and keep them up to date. New threats are created every day.
  • Avoid using public computers such as in internet cafés for online banking.
  • Don’t give your account details, PINs or access codes to anyone, including family or friends and anyone who, for example, phones you asking for it, even if they say they’re from your bank.
  • Don’t select ‘save password’ on computer programs or websites.
  • Use a separate password for online banking. If possible change it from time to time. Don’t use one that’s easily guessed such as your birth date.
  • Log off as soon as you finish internet banking and close your browser.
  • Regularly check account statements and notify your bank immediately if you believe your password has been compromised or you notice unauthorised transactions.
  • Print and read your bank’s terms and conditions.

More information

  • Read our report on ID fraud.
  • Check the joint website from the Australian Bankers’ Association, the Australian High Tech Crime Centre and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission: www.protectfinancialid.org.au.
  • Some financial institutions also provide useful information and updates on security on their websites.


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