Guide to Keeping Your Bank Account Safe Online

By Caroline Banton · May 20, 2024 · 7 minute read

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Guide to Keeping Your Bank Account Safe Online

Online and mobile banking are now woven into many people’s daily lives. With just a few clicks or taps, you can check your balances, pay bills, and make other financial transactions from virtually anywhere, at any time.

Banks are not only convenient, they also implement numerous security measures to help safeguard your accounts. With hackers finding increasingly sophisticated ways to try to access your information, however, it’s also important to be aware of steps you can take on your own to keep your financial and personal details out of the hands of cyber thieves and hackers. Here’s what you need to know.

Key Points

•   Always download financial apps from trusted platforms like the App Store or Google Play to avoid fraudulent activity.

•   Use strong, unique passwords for banking accounts to enhance security.

•   Enable multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security beyond just passwords.

•   Set up account alerts to monitor for unusual activity and respond quickly to unauthorized transactions.

•   Avoid using public wifi for banking transactions to protect against potential security breaches.

Tips on Securing Your Bank Account from Hackers

These days cyber thieves are getting increasingly savvy, even setting up fake bank websites and banking apps designed to steal your personal information — and, in turn, the contents of your checking or savings account.

There are a few simple things you can do, however, to help secure your accounts. What follows are six easy strategies that can help you stay ahead of scammers and hackers and protect your hard-earned cash.

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Choose Trustworthy Financial Apps

Whether it’s your bank’s mobile app or any other type of financial app (like a budgeting app), be sure to only download verified apps from a trusted platform, like the App Store for iPhone or iOS users or the Google Play Store for Android users. Fraudulent activity can often occur through fake apps or those downloaded from unofficial sources.

Before downloading a third-party money management app, it’s also a good idea to look up online reviews of the providers from reliable sources, research the app’s security policies, and look for any past data breaches.

Recommended: 50/30/20 Budget Rule: What It Is and Tips On Using It

Choose Strong and Unique Passwords

It’s wise to choose a unique password for every bank account, and avoid repeating any ones you use for other online accounts, even non-financial ones. That way, if a fraudster is able to uncover your Facebook password, they won’t be able to access your savings account.

To create a secure password, try to combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You generally want to avoid using easily guessable information such as birthdates, kids’ names, or sequential numbers. To keep the login information for all of your accounts organized, you might want to use a physical or online password manager.

Use Multi-Factor ID

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to enable two- or multi-factor authentication. This adds another layer of security by requiring one or more forms of verification in addition to a password, such as a pin sent to your mobile device via email or SMS. If hackers are able to access your bank account login credentials, it would be difficult for them to log in without your second verification.

You may also want to take advantage of biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, if offered by your bank. Biometrics protect your account by using unique physical characteristics to verify your identity, making it harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access.

Recommended: Avoiding Mobile Deposit Scams, Fakes, and Hacks

Set Up Account Alerts

You can typically set up banking alerts via email, text, or your bank’s app to monitor unusual activity, such as large withdrawals, a profile/password update, new linked external account, or an unusual login attempt. This allows you to identify suspicious activity quickly and report any unusual or unauthorized transactions to your bank right away. You can then work with the bank to swiftly resolve the issue.

Watch Out for Phishing Attempts

Phishing scams are ever more prevalent and sophisticated. These scams trick you into providing your personal and banking information that can then be used for fraudulent activity.

For example, you could receive an email, supposedly from your bank, saying there’s been a problem with your account and sharing a link where you are asked to login and update your information. The website you are led to could look just like your bank’s website. If you input your details, hackers will have access to your login information. A few ways to avoid online bank scams:

•   If you get a communication that says it’s from your bank and asks you to click a link, don’t. Log into your banking website or app, and check messages there to see what’s going on. Or call your bank to ask if the message is legitimate.

•   Hover over the email sender’s address. You may be surprised to see the message is coming from a different identity than the one it’s pretending to be. If that’s the case, don’t click on anything; mark the email as spam.

•   Never download attachments from unknown sources, as they may contain malware designed to steal your login credentials.

Recommended: Are Online Savings Accounts Safe?

Be Wary When Using Public Wifi

The public wifi at your favorite coffee shop or local library can help you stay connected when you’re out and about, but you can’t count on it to be entirely secure. While it’s generally fine to use public wifi for browsing the web, it’s best to avoid using it for any activities that require login information, such as signing in to your bank account. The open connection could potentially give cyber thieves a chance to grab your username and password as they move between you and your bank’s website.

To make public wifi more secure, consider putting a virtual private network (VPN) app on your device. A VPN encrypts your data as it passes to and from your device and acts as a protective pathway so that your data is not visible as it passes through a network.

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The Takeaway

Online banking is generally safe and convenient, but it’s also important to take precautions to minimize the risk of getting hacked or scammed. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of your bank account being compromised. These include using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, only downloading apps from reputable platforms, never clicking on links in communications that are (supposedly) from your bank, and never logging into your bank account using public wifi.

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Can hackers steal money from a bank account?

Hackers may be able to steal money from a bank account if they gain access to your account credentials. They might be able to do this by using deceptive emails and websites to trick you into revealing your bank details or exploiting vulnerabilities in a bank’s security systems to access sensitive data.

Fortunately, banks implement numerous security measures to safeguard your accounts. You can also help keep your accounts safe by using strong passwords, enabling multi-factor identification, and being wise to phishing scams.

Who pays if your bank account is hacked?

If your bank account is hacked and unauthorized transactions occur, the bank will likely reimburse the stolen funds, provided you report the incident quickly.

As soon as you see something suspicious, you’ll want to call the number on the back of your bank card and go through the fraud department’s recovery process.

Am I protected if my bank account is hacked?

Yes, you are usually protected if your bank account is hacked, as long as you let the bank know about the fraudulent transaction in a timely manner.

Generally, if you report an unauthorized bank transaction within 48 hours, your liability will be limited to no more than $50. However, if you wait months to report an incident, you might have difficulty recovering any of your lost funds.

Can someone hack your bank account with a routing number and an account number?

Having access to your routing number and account number can potentially lead to some negative outcomes, such as fraudulent payments, the creation of checks for your account, and possibly online shopping with retailers that only require bank account information.

However, a routing number and account number is typically not sufficient on its own for hackers to gain direct access to your bank account. Most banks employ multiple layers of security measures, including authentication protocols and monitoring systems, to prevent unauthorized access to customer accounts.

Photo credit: iStock/insjoy

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

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