which assured her it did not correspond with customers via e-mail in regard to their accounts. The bank also told her that it had recently received many such complaints. “I was [thinking] ‘When were you going to tell us that?” Goodwin Lyles says. “As consumers, we should know.”
She eventually switched banks. Now she and her husband, Ron, 42, do their banking online and are vigilant against phishing and other computer scams. One time, the couple’s computer contracted a virus and crashed, and as a safety precaution, they changed their passwords for their online bank accounts.
The FDIC recommends that consumers also do the following to guard against identity theft and phishing:
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited call, fax, letter, e-mail, or Internet advertisement
- If you decide to initiate a transaction with a bank or another entity on the Web, take some simple precautions. Don’t provide personal information to a Website that uses a link from an e-mail or an Internet advertisement, no matter how legitimate it may appear.
- Quickly report anything suspicious to the proper authorities. Report any questionable e-mail messages or Websites to the real bank, company, or government agency using a phone number or e-mail address from a reliable source. For example, if a Web page looks different or unusual, contact the institution directly to confirm that you haven’t landed on a copycat Website. And if you’re pretty sure an e-mail or Website is fraudulent, contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ifccfbi.gov), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
How to Pay Your Bills Online
Banking online is easier than you think, according to BankRate.com, a Website that provides personal finance advice and up-to-date interest rate information. Here are some tips to get you going:
Getting started: Your bank’s site will walk you through the steps of registering the accounts you wish to pay bills from and the payee accounts you wish to send money to. You only need to enter the account information once; your banking site will keep it until you change or remove it. You can always change the accounts you’re paying bills from or add more payees as needed. At the account registration stage, you may also be given the opportunity to receive some of your bills online. An increasing number of larger companies now offer electronic billing, or e-bills, and accept electronic payment.
Scheduling payments: Once you have registered your own and your payee accounts, the next step is to schedule payment. You simply select the account you want the money withdrawn from, the payee account you wish to send money to, the amount you wish to pay, and the date you want the payee to receive the payment. Your bank may set a minimum number of days, often four or five, as the earliest available payment date. You may also have the option to schedule recurring payments, make multiple payments at once, and pay your bills automatically.
Your creditors receive your online payment in one of two ways: electronic payment