Online banking may be recently growing in popularity among civilians, but it is a process many service members have been using for years.
Reconciliation of shared checking accounts can be near impossible when a family member is away; online banking helps by making transaction history available from anywhere in the world.
Many online banking programs are now designed to offer online bill pay, a service that allows customers to set up regularly occurring debits from their account to pay cell phone, car payments and other monthly bills. A tutorial of this process is at www.bankofamerica.com/onlinebanking/learning-center.go
As a PFM, you are probably used to encouraging service members to do their research before opening an account. Bankrate.com is a good resource that lets users comparison shop for bank services, interest rates and check locations before opening an account.
Military-affiliated credit unions or banks are financial institutions that understand the military lifestyle. Military credit unions also offer a bevy of services, and are always located on or near military bases. Member-owned credit unions also usually offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and lower rates on loans than shareholder-owned banks. And the Navy Federal Credit Union serves all four branches of the military and offers specialized accounts. Large national bank with locations around the country can also a good strategy, as military families relocate frequently.
Online banking does require vigilance to protect user’s account numbers and personal information. Here are 7 steps you can suggest to military families so they may conduct online banking, safely:
- Make sure computers used for online banking have updated operating systems, web browsers and security features like anti-spyware, anti-malware and firewalls that update automatically.
- Try not to do online banking in open access wifi spots where Internet access is shared among users. Ask if the network is secure and what security measures are in place.
- Look at the URL and note the ‘s’. Banking sites should begin with “https” as the “s” stands for “secure.”
- Use strong, unique passwords with a combination of lower case and upper case letters, numbers and special characters and keep passwords hidden. Do not use any part or combination of your name, birth date, or, common words. Change passwords often and use different passwords for different accounts.
- Log out after completing online banking and clear the Internet history.
- Keep account numbers and banking information in a safe, secure location, in the event that passwords are forgotten or online access is otherwise denied.
- If you get an email from your bank – or from any other company- requesting account numbers or passwords., do not reply. Call the bank for confirmation. A reputable bank will never ask for this information through an email.