An Introduction To Online Banking
It used to be the case that to see how healthy (or otherwise) your bank balance was or even to get money from your account, you’d have to pop into your local branch and speak to someone over the counter.
Then cash machines came along that not only allowed you 24-hour access to your money, but also let you see how much you had left in your account as well as allowing you to check any recent transactions.
And then online banking came along to change everything and you can now check your account details and even transfer money and set up standing orders via your computer or even your smartphone.
This has made banking a lot more convenient, particularly for those who work during the hours that banks do business and so can never get into their local branch.
But how exactly does online banking work? And is it really safe? Let’s take a look…
How to set up an online account
If you are opening a new account then this will come with the option for online and telephone banking and will be set up alongside your new account.
If you already have a bank account it’s very easy to set up online banking and you’ll not have to change any of your direct debits or standing orders and your account number and sort code will also remain the same.
You should be able to set up online banking by simply registering on your bank’s official website but it could also be something that you have to do either in-branch or over the phone so check with your bank.
If you are opening a new account then you will need to provide proof of identity and proof of residence as you would when applying for any financial product and you will most likely have to take these to your local branch to have them verified.
It’s also worth asking if your bank charges a fee for the extra services as different banks have different requirements; some may charge an additional fee for services, others may just require you to deposit a certain amount of money each month.
Once you have set up your online account you will be able to check your balance, transfer money, set up standing orders – do pretty much everything except make deposits and withdrawals – anywhere that you can get an internet connection.
Is online banking safe?
Any online transactions can be fraught with anxiety and online banking is no different. However, conducting your banking business online should be as safe as you can get as banks have very sophisticated security and firewalls to stop online criminals stealing your details.
You will need to enter an online PIN number and also answer some personal security questions, that you have set yourself, to gain access to your account and you may also be given a card reader as an extra level of security. This is a small device that looks like a calculator and you simply put your debit card into it, enter your PIN number and it will give you a unique code that you need to enter to access your account.
You should never give out any of your online banking details, such as PIN numbers or security questions and answers and no-one from your bank will ever ask for them, either in person, over the phone or via an email.
And be wary of ‘phishing’ emails which may look like official emails from your bank but are simply ways to gain access to your data. If you do get any suspicious correspondence you should report it to your bank.