How to Keep Your Parents Safe Online While Banking

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Are you concerned that your parents or grandparents might not be as Internet-savvy as they should be? Here’s how you can help keep them safe when banking online.

It’s a funny thing when technology advances so rapidly that many of us can’t keep up. It’s especially funny when it’s kids who are the ones teaching their parents how to use simple things like email, internet surfing, smart phones, smart home technology, and online banking. With this technologically-reliant world we live in, there are people out there with malicious intent, hackers and cyber-sneaks taking advantage of the older generation’s lack of Internet-savviness.

You might have undergone the sometimes-excruciating experience of setting your parents up for online banking only to realize that it wouldn’t take much to convince them to take the bait of a phishing scheme or unknowingly expose their personal information online. That makes their private data vulnerable and ripe for the taking. There are some things you just instinctively do online that keeps you safe, but what about your parents?

It seems like we don’t always think to recommend the actions we take while completing private tasks online that involve our finances and other personal information. Look no further than our compiled list of ways you can protect your parents online while banking - after so many years of keeping you safe, it’s time to return the favor!

Setting Reminders

Your parents could just be forgetful. This can lead to expert hackers worming their way through virtual doors left open or taking advantage of opportunities of an unmonitored account. Don’t let this happen to your parents. 

Instead, keep them safe online by helping them establish a system of reminders so they know to log out after they’re finished banking online. Even if they force-quit out of an app, going to hit the log out button is an excellent habit to get into, as is setting up notifications for all account activities. 

If your parents are avid smartphone users, then take up the option of having text alerts sent to their phones for every transaction. Have their bank notify them in any way they prefer, whether it’s paper statements each month, emails, or texts, or they can set reminders to log on every night to check their banking activity to ensure that there are no fraudulent charges.

Be Network Wise

For older folks, this may not be a big worry but it’s still worth mentioning to your parents: don’t do your online banking on public Wi-Fi, public computers, or where people can easily look over your shoulder in hopes of grabbing your account information. This may seem like common sense, but even the best of us are guilty of doing these things. At airports we may log on, not conscious of our surroundings of strangers, while waiting in lines - it can be hard not to hook into that irresistible, free public Wi-Fi just to check our balances. 

However, it’s all these moments that make us vulnerable to malware, spyware, and whatever-ware that steals our personal banking information, dooming our finances and identities. Be network wise and express this to your parents, even if they don’t totally understand why or how it happens. 

You can explain to them that if they want to do online banking, they should only use their laptop at home because it’s safer. Also, if they are attuned to Wi-Fi networks, tell them to only utilize their cellular data if they want to access their finances. And especially if they have the text size on their devices blown up so much that you can see it from space, tell them for the love of online safety, don’t log in to your bank in public.

Preach That Stranger Danger

Let’s say your parents take pride in being technologically fluent, but you and your siblings know they’re still vulnerable. You think about how it wouldn’t take much for them to become victims of an online scam, so one surefire way to keep your parents safe while their online is by using the exact same methods they once used on you.

“Stranger danger” can be a hard-learned lesson, and one that you don’t want yourself or your parents to ever have to experience. Being approached online by a stranger scheming to obtain your personal information may seem like a no-brainer, avoid at all costs, red flag alert, but your parents could be fooled. 

With things like social media in the mix, or even an email that looks as if it came from a friend (and sometimes they do, hackers can easily access email accounts and spam their contact lists with malicious links), there’s no telling what sort of traps your folks could fall victim to.

Tell your parents that if they’re asked for their social security number or credit card number online, to never give it out. Explain to them that when they are using online banking, their bank will ask them for an assigned login, a strong password, and possibly ask for their PIN number to access their account, all of which would have been previously explained to them when initially setting up their accounts. Should they ever feel as if the bank is asking them for personal information in a suspicious email, then they should call the bank and ask right away.

Two-Factor Authentication is Their Friend

It’s a pain, but it’s there for a reason. It’s two-factor authentication (2FA), and all bank portals offer it for their customers for better security. Your parents may complain that it’s too time consuming, but just remind that them that banks use 2FA because it verifies their customers’ identities, successfully prevents unwanted access, and protects their customers’ sensitive information.

Additionally, help your parents come up with a strong password. If your parents are like others in the older generation, there’s a good chance they’ll forget, so be sure to keep the information in a secondary place that’s safe and secure, like your phone’s keychain access. 

Follow the bank’s requirements when creating the password and always go with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, all while striving to be less obvious in the creation (for example, don’t let them use “Password123” for all their accounts… or any of them).

Update Banking Apps

If your parents use mobile banking apps, help them occasionally check their phones to make sure that the app is up to date. If there’s one thing parents can be collectively terrible at, it’s updating their phones to the newest, most secure operating system and apps. 

For whatever reason, it seems to be the parental way to mess this process up, but you can keep them safe by periodically offering to do it for them. An updated banking app goes a long way in the name of security.

Have Their Backs

Parents aren’t always going to be as attentive and trained to act as virtually secure as you are, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to just watch each other’s backs - as family should. Growing up, we’ve learned the language of the Internet, and because in our youth we have ran alongside the progress, we have developed a sixth sense in knowing what to look out for. 

Our time in this virtual world has gifted us the ability with online common sense, something our parents may or may not have (yet). It doesn’t take long to understand protocols in safety, especially for something as simple as online banking. Online banking can be an excellent tool, but like all tools, you just have to know how to use it properly.