As we collectively ease into our “new normal” with the worst of the COVID pandemic now behind us, every reader of this column has seen some elements of everyday life change. Some of the changes in our behaviors were temporary, and when it was safe to do so, we returned to the old ways of doing things. We have become accustomed to some of the other changes and they appear to have become more permanent, like doing things electronically that we used to do in person.
COVID only accelerated a digital shift that was already underway. Think about how much more often you use video conferencing for work meetings or to stay in touch with friends and family than you did before 2020. How many more packages are arriving at your doorstep now that online shopping has been turbocharged by the pandemic? Surely your banking habits have changed as well.
At Parke Bank, as has been the experience of countless community banks across the country, we witnessed a vast transformation in the way we interact with our customers since early 2020. Between government-mandated lockdowns and voluntary social distancing, the demand for contactless transactions soared during the past two years. When our branches were closed or restricted, customers became accustomed to online and app-based banking. We in the banking industry know that this is a trend that is here to stay.
As our customers conduct more transactions online, we have correspondingly focused more attention to our cybersecurity efforts, ensuring the highest level of security for your sensitive data and financial information. We’ve also made investments in improving the user experience for those doing their banking at www.ParkeBank.com as our redesigned website was just launched late last year.
We know that for everyday activities such as checking account balances, making payments and transfers, and even credit card applications, most of our customers now prefer to engage with us online or via the Parke Bank app. We also know that, as our customers conduct more transactions digitally, the threat from hackers, scammers and other cybercriminals increases proportionally. But banking online can be perfectly safe, as long as your bank uses industry-standard security technology, and precautions are taken.
Follow these tips to ensure your online banking experience is as safe as possible:
When visiting your bank online, avoid clicking on links that you may have received via email or text. Instead, make sure you always type the bank’s website into your browser. You’ll know your bank employs web page encryption by looking for “https” at the beginning of the website address.
Never access your bank’s website or app unless you are on a secure, password-protected WiFi network (or using your cell phone’s data connection). Public WiFi networks offered by your gym or the local coffee shop are convenient, but hackers can more easily access your device and steal your personal information while you’re connected.
Always keep your login information secure. Avoid using the options some websites give to save your usernames and passwords. Doing so will enable anyone who uses your computer or mobile device after you to access your bank accounts. Change your passwords regularly and use different passwords for each of your online accounts. Make sure you use hard-to-guess passwords that have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
Use your bank’s app or website to log in to your account regularly to check your account balances to verify there are no unauthorized charges. Gone are the days when you had to wait to receive your monthly account statement to check over your transaction history. If you see suspicious activity, change your password and call your bank right away. If your bank offers to send you text or email alerts when large transactions are made on your accounts or when your balance drops below a set amount, you should opt-in.
Install anti-virus software that prevents, detects and removes malicious programs. Make sure you keep this software up-to-date on all devices that you use to access your bank accounts.
Your bank has a responsibility to use industry-standard security technology to combat cybersecurity threats and ensure the security of your funds and your personal data. You, as an account holder, also play a critical role in making sure your accounts are protected. Hopefully, these virtual banking safety tips will help you to do so.
Disclaimer: Parke Bank will not ask for any personal information via email or text message. If you suspect you have received a fraudulent email or text from Parke Bank, please contact us at 856-256-2500.