Your Internet Banking Rights and Responsibilities

Have you ever really thought about what happens when you log onto a bank's website? You're entering your username and personal code into a system in order to access your banking information. That information is the heart of your financial being and something you can't risk letting fall into the wrong hands. Though the financial institution undoubtedly has the responsibility of safeguarding both your money and personal data, it must be remembered that you as the customer must also bear some of the burden for security. Be aware not only of your banking rights, but your banking responsibilities as well.

Your rights:

  • You have the right to expect that your personal information is protected. Of course, you should be able to expect that your bank's website employs the highest security measures, so your information is safe from those who would try to break in and seize control of your financial accounts.
  • You have the right to expect your bank's help in protecting your account. If you see charges on your account that you don't recognize, the bank is responsible to help find out what those charges and where they came from. If you suspect fraud, the bank is responsible for stopping any new charges to your account and assisting you through the legal and financial retribution processes.

Your responsibilities:

  • You have the responsibility to keep your username and password secure. Once you're given a user name and password for your bank account, you should take care to keep close tabs on this important information. In the same way that you wouldn't just leave a big pile of cash lying around for anyone to walk by and pick up, you should also protect your banking information; because your bank account, once compromised, puts your cash into someone else's hands.
  • You have the responsibility to secure your checkbook. The same rules that apply to your username and password apply to your checkbook. Your checkbook has vital identifying information that can be unscrupulously used to withdraw money from, or simply write fraudulent checks against, your account. It only takes a few quickly cashed checks to take away everything you have saved.
  • You have the responsibility to stay informed about scams that may attempt to hijack your banking information. There are always a number of online scams around that crooks try to use to gain unauthorized access to bank accounts. For instance, they might create a complete website that look exactly like your bank's site (known as spoofing). They'll then send you an e-mail stating that "your account has been compromised and you must click on a link so they can help verify and protect your information" (this technique is called phishing). The link will, of course, take you to the spoofed website where you'll be asked to enter your username and password. If you do so, the crook will quickly access your real account and remove your money. People often don't realize they've been hit until sometime later when they notice a number of withdrawals that they didn't make.
  • You have the responsibility to be proactive. Always keep close tabs on your bank accounts. At the first sign of any suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately. The sooner you report the actions, the more likely it becomes that you'll not be held liable for all of the losses sustained. If you take too long to report the problem, you could lose everything.