Of all the things you safeguard in your life, perhaps there is nothing more important than keeping your financial information safe and secure. In today’s busy and often unpredictable world, people are flocking to online, or digital, banking in droves, with an estimated 65.3 percent of Americans expected to be managing their finances online by 2022. While younger people predominantly bank online – 93.3% of 25-34 year-olds currently do – many of those between 65-74 have been moving to smartphones and 47% bank online.
It’s not surprising that older adults are beginning to take an increasingly bigger piece of this online-banking-pie, considering that 83% of household wealth in the U.S. is now held by people over 50. As technology and security continue to advance in leaps and bounds, many are enjoying the numerous benefits, perks and ease of access digital banking provides.
There’s nothing quite like the ease of being able to manage your banking activity from the comfort of your own home, anytime day or night. Standing in long lines or navigating traditional banking hours are a thing of the past, especially in today’s world when many are seeking increased opportunities to safeguard health and safety. There’s a silver lining as well, since banks often charge fewer fees for online banking as compared to traditional banking.
There’s tremendous peace of mind in having your financial or banking information available right at your fingertips, whenever you need it. This became readily apparent in the spring of 2020 when banks closed their doors to in-person banking for several months. If you have an unforeseen financial need or obligation or need to access your accounts with urgency, they’re just a click away. This can be a game-changer, especially for a spouse or caregiver who is managing a loved one’s financial affairs due to an unexpected event, illness or injury.
Security-related issues are a top concern for seniors who are hesitant to move to online banking. However, banks hold security and privacy as their most important missions to ensure that client information is protected and safe. They use state-of-the-art technology, firewalls, fraud monitoring and website encryption, which scrambles data so only the intended person can read it. Additionally, most online banks require multi-factor authentication, which requires customers to provide more than just a standard username and password to verify their identity. Finally, if your bank is insured by the FDIC, their online banking portal has identity protection.
Once you’ve dipped a toe into the online banking world and tried some of the newer features such as taking photos of checks and depositing them through an app in your smartphone, there are some helpful hints to make sure your online experience continues to be nothing but smooth sailing.
Avoid public WiFi networks
It’s always safest to do your online banking in the privacy and safety of your own home. If you must access your accounts when away, consider using your cellular data plan instead of WiFi, or a virtual private network (VPN). Each time you log in, make sure your browser address begins with “https.” The “s” ensures the website is encrypted and secure.
Change your passwords regularly
Regularly updating your passwords is an important thing to do, regardless of online activity. Stay away from common or easy-to-guess passwords like pet or family names, or simple number combinations. Instead use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The more complicated the password, the less likely you will fall victim to a hacker.
Check your bank statement regularly
Many financial institutions have a top-notch fraud detection system and will reach out to you the moment any suspicious activity is discovered. More often than not, this may simply be an authorized transaction or amount that seems just a bit out-of-the-ordinary. Still, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of regularly reviewing your accounts just to ensure things look on the up-and-up on your end.
Final thought for financial caregivers
For family members that may move into a role as a financial caregiver for an aging parent, it’s critical to encourage the parent to move to an online platform so they can share that access with the caregiver. This process may take time given that older adults often prefer the personal interaction of visiting their local bank and have security concerns about moving their accounts online. Conversations about making this move may take some time, so plan ahead.
The ability to manage your banking needs online adds another layer of convenience to your life. And knowing you have trusted and secure access to your financial information whenever you need it, brings peace of mind.