We read stories about phishing and data breaches and we get worried. Some of us start thinking that maybe we’re better off (security-wise) with paper-based banking. Sending checks, receiving statements in the mail, paying bills the old fashioned way – manually with a checkbook and a stamp. But as Jean Chatzky said this morning on NBC’s Today Show, online banking is actually safer than paper-based for a few reasons.

  1. People who use online banking check their account 4 times more often than those who use paper-based banking. That means if someone does fraudulently steal your identity or your banking information, you’ll find out about it more quickly and remedy the problem earlier, translating to potentially fewer losses.
  2. Banks’ online systems are more secure than your mailbox and trash bin. Sure, they may not be 100% impervious to attack, but they’re much harder to hack into than your mailbox at the curb or the trash can full of sensitive information (even if it is shredded).
  3. You can’t ‘wash’ an online transaction. Check washing still occurs today – where someone takes a legitimate check you signed, washes the original amount and payee information but retains your signature. They’re then free to put their own name and any amount they choose. Online transactions aren’t washable – they go where they’re meant to go, when they’re meant to go.

Basically what it boils down to is, choose a secure password that you can remember without writing it down. Keep your information to yourself, and don’t fall prey to scams inviting you “click here” to verify your information. You bank doesn’t need you to verify your information, and if they do they can find a more secure way to contact you than sending an email or putting a button on your Facebook page.