How to keep your bank account secure

Here is how to keep your bank account, debit card and personal details safe when you use them online or in person.

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Remember to:

  • Create strong passwords

  • Use antivirus software

  • Keep track of your account online

  • Avoid email and phishing scams

  • Protect your PIN

  • Only shop on websites you trust

Use internet and mobile banking safely

Online banking could leave your account vulnerable to fraud if someone else found out your login details, because they could take money from it and have access to your personal details.

It can also help you avoid fraud because it lets you check your statements regularly. This can let you spot any suspicious transactions straight away.

If you find any transactions you did not make yourself, contact your bank immediately. They could get them refunded and prevent it happening again.

You can use online banking securely by:

  • Choosing different passwords for all your online accounts.

  • Updating your passwords regularly and never share them with anyone else.

  • Using a password manager, which creates secure passwords for you.

  • Using up to date antivirus software. Some banks give you this for free.

  • Only using a secure Wi-Fi connection when you use online banking.

  • Logging out of your online banking or mobile app when you have finished.

How to create a secure password

\When you create a new password for online banking or any other website, make it secure by avoiding obvious personal information like your name or home town. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Here are some tips on choosing a strong password.

Using mobile banking carefully

Using your bank's app can let you keep track of your balance, move money between your own accounts and make bank transfers to other people.

You can protect your smartphone or tablet with a PIN, password or biometric login to unlock the screen. You also have to enter login details before you can sign in to your bank's app.

Although these can protect your account from unauthorised use, if you lose your phone, let your bank know immediately. They can then temporarily block access to your account through mobile banking.

You can also remotely disable most phones, which could stop anyone using your mobile banking or stealing your personal details.

How to use your bank's mobile phone app safely

Sending bank transfers

Check the details carefully before you send funds to someone else. Getting one digit of the account number wrong could mean your money goes to the wrong person. Carefully check:

  • The sort code

  • The account number

  • The payee's name

  • The reference

  • The amount

If you send a payment to the wrong account, contact your bank immediately. They may be able to get the money back, but this could take a long time.

Here is how to send a bank transfer using online banking

Avoid bank scams and identity theft

You could have money stolen from your bank account if someone:

  • Got hold of your personal details, pretended to be you and took money

  • Tricked you into giving them your bank details or card number

Here is how to avoid identity theft online and offline.

Fraudsters could try to steal your money or personal information by contacting you with emails, phone calls, text messages or in person.

Never give anyone your bank details, passwords or any other personal information if they contact you.

If you need to sign into online banking, go straight to your bank's website instead of clicking on a link in an email or another website.

If someone from your bank asks for personal details when they have phoned you, call your bank back instead to give them the details. You can use a phone number you know is correct by checking online.

Here is what to look for online to make sure you are using your bank's real website and that it is secure.

Stay aware of the latest cybercrimes and fraud using the police's ActionFraud website

Use your debit card safely

You can prevent someone else using your debit card by:

  • Keeping your card safe and letting your bank know immediately if it is lost or stolen

  • Keeping your PIN secret and changing it if anyone else finds out what it is

  • Keeping your 16 digit card number and CCV number* to yourself because someone else could use it to make purchases

*A three or four digit security number on your card you used to authorise transactions online

If you report your card as stolen or lost to your bank, they will cancel it so nobody can use it to spend your money. They will then send you a new card with a new 16 digit card number.

You can usually change your PIN through internet banking or at some cash machines.

Using cash machines

When you withdraw money from an ATM, protect your PIN by checking for:

  • Anyone watches you too closely

  • Any devices or contraptions attached to the cash machine

  • Hidden cameras that could record you entering your PIN

Here is what to look out for and how to use ATMs safely

Shopping online

When you shop online, you can use your debit card to make purchases. Make sure you keep your card details safe by:

  • Only using retailers you know and trust

  • Make sure you are using the retailer's real website and not a fraudulent copy of it

  • Check the web page is secure when you enter personal information or card details

Here is how to check a website is secure and legitimate.

If your debit card is a Visa or MasterCard, they each provide extra security when you use them online. You can set up a password you have to enter to spend on your card using:

What to do if something goes wrong

Contact your bank as soon as possible if someone uses your account fraudulently. They can stop it happening again and you may be able to get your money back.

You may also be able to claim your money back through the Chargeback scheme. Here is how the Chargeback scheme works.

If you think you report it to ActionFraud or if it is an emergency, contact the police.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.