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Why you can trust online banking

Internet banking is convenient, cheaper and secure. But depositors should take a few precautions before signing up for an online account.

By MSN Money producer Oct 4, 2013 2:23PM

This post is from Jennifer Calonia at partner site U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News & World Report

 

In the last decade, more Americans have taken to the Internet to complete their to day-to-day activities, from window shopping to electronic check deposits. The progression toward online products and services has increased in the banking industry so much that some institutions have decided to abandon brick-and-mortar locations in response to customer wants and needs. 

 

Man looking at laptop © Chris Ryan, OJO Images, Getty ImagesBanks of all sizes are scaling back on the number of active branches available to their customers. According to research firm SNL Financial, 2,267 branches were closed in 2012.

 

However, not everyone is willing – or able – to jump on board the online-only way of life. Those most adversely affected by bank closures are customers who not only lack connectivity to the Internet due to financial constraints, but also those who distrust digital banking or don't understand how to do it. 

 

Earning the trust of conventional bankgoers requires more than a reassurance from financial institutions that online banking is efficient, less cost-prohibitive and more convenient. Instead, the power other traditional outreach methods, like word-of-mouth, can help shift the opinion of those wary of digital banking. 

 

Consumers who have questions and are uncertain about transitioning to an online bank can find resources through online training. These courses often include topics such as learning how to browse the web, create an online account or perform basic transactions like fund transfers, online bill pay and setting up fraud alerts.

 

But before activating an account with an online bank, depositors should navigate through this checklist:

 

 

No. 1: Verify the bank is FDIC-Insured

The first thing customers should do before opening an account through an online bank involves addressing the issue of distrust. Reputable online banks are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Similar to brick-and-mortar banks, the FDIC provides protection to customers in the event of a bank failure. Depositor funds are insured up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. Insured online bank websites will include phrases like "Member FDIC," or "FDIC-Insured" and have the corporation's logo visible on the page.  

No. 2: Select a complex password

It's imperative that new users create a secure password for their new online bank account. Some institutions have character minimums, or request that account holders include numbers or capitalization in their passwords, which makes it harder for fraudsters to infiltrate an account without authorization. 

 

No. 3. Don't close primary accounts yet

Depositors who expect to overhaul their banking practices and move to an online bank should refrain from closing out their primary bank account immediately. It's important to maintain primary accounts and keep a small amount of cash on deposit for about one month. This measure ensures any checks that might have been written before opening the online account are cleared. 

 

Being uncertain about banking online is a natural reaction for those unfamiliar with the Internet and the customer protections that already exist, but these easy steps can give you a greater peace of mind when using an online bank.

 

 

More from U.S. News & World Report: 

 

 

 

 

3Comments
Oct 6, 2013 1:01PM
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I use online banking but still insist on hard copies of statements for keeping records.  Online security is a gamble but my biggest problem is the site is often down for maintenance or my internet connection isn't working well.  
Oct 7, 2013 1:03PM
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Online banking may be safe, but it's not safe to assume money.msn.com's "best place to save" generator will give you the best places.

For my area it lists one tiny, out of the way Credit Union and otherwise all banks that pay MUCH less interest than SECU of MD, a credit union almost anyone can join with many branches all across the state, no debit card swipe fees, no check overdraft fees if savings can cover it, and 70,000 free ATMs nationwide include those in every 7-11, Target, and Costco.

Credit Unions folks!  If you a typical bank user you are foolish for not moving to a Credit Union unless it's a matter of great convenience.

Oct 7, 2013 8:23AM
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For about six years, I've been using on-line banking "paybills" to pay almost 100% of the bills I receive each month.  Best thing since sliced bread, as far as I'm concerned.  Easy to use and delivery of payments per date I request has not failed me yet.  Couple of years ago I had my son-in-law try it when he and my daughter had moved and was switching banks.  He had been really skeptical, but  is now a total convert.  My son, on the other hand, is old school and I cannot convince him to give it a try.  He thinks someone will get unauthorized access to his money. 
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