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How to stay safe when using online banking

Online banking, also known as internet banking, has become increasingly popular over the past decade. It’s a great way to take control of your finances and an easy way to make sure you’re keeping up to date with payments. But how does it work and is it safe?

What is online banking?

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Do you have more than one account? New services mean you can now see all your accounts in a single banking app. Find out more on our Open Banking and sharing your information online page.

Banking online means accessing your bank account and carrying out financial transactions through the internet on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

It’s quick, usually free and allows you to do tasks, such as paying bills and transferring money, without having to visit or call your bank.

Many banks also have free apps which let you use these services from your smartphone or tablet.

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Most banks let you use your online account to:

  • check your bank balance at any time
  • pay your bills and transfer money to other accounts
  • check any linked mortgages, loans, savings accounts or ISAs
  • check your bank statements and go paperless (stop getting paper bills sent to you)
  • set up or cancel Direct Debits and standing orders
  • check on any investments you might have that are linked to your account.

How secure is online banking?

Keeping your online account safe

Banks take lots of precautions to make sure your online account is safe. These include encrypted websites, timed log outs and many authentication processes. You can ask your bank for more details.

Accessing your bank account online is generally safe. This is as long as you make sure you enter in all the right details when making a transaction and follow a few rules:

  • Check your statement often and report any unusual activity to your bank.
  • Don’t reply to emails that claim to be from your bank that ask for personal details or passwords.
  • Always remember to log out of your online banking session.
  • Only use secure wi-fi connections to access your bank account.
  • Public wi-fi connections are often not secure, so it’s important not to use them for banking or to make purchases. If you’re out and about with a mobile or tablet, it’s safer to use your 3G or 4G connection.
  • Keep your operating system and anti-virus software up to date.
  • Choose your password carefully – create it by combining three random words and don’t re-use the same one for different accounts.

Read more about safe online banking on the Get Safe Online website

Find information about Shopping and paying safely online

Secure mobile banking

Accessing your account through your smartphone, either using a website or a banking app, is becoming more popular.

It’s a fast, convenient way to manage your finances, and banks invest heavily in making mobile banking safe.

Some high-street banks have real-time notifications of transactions, such as Monzo and Starling. This makes it much easier and quicker to spot fraudulent transactions.

What if something goes wrong?

If you notice anything strange on your account, or you accidentally make a payment to the wrong account, get in touch with your bank as soon as possible.

Some banks offer instant card freezing, where you can block your card in you app without having to call or visit a branch. Contact your bank to check if they offer this additional security feature.

How to set up online banking

Most banks in the UK provide an online banking service.

To find out if you can get online access to your account, check your bank’s website, give them a call, or pop into a branch.

For security reasons, the registration process often involves a few steps.

These might include:

  • visiting your local bank branch
  • having a set-up code texted to you on your mobile phone
  • having a password posted to you
  • being given a small security device you’ll need to log on.

However, in many cases you’ll be able to set up an online bank account without even leaving your home.

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My bank doesn’t offer internet banking

If your bank doesn’t offer online banking, or you’re not happy with the service provided, you’re free to switch to another provider.

How to access online banking without an internet connection

Even if you don’t have an internet connection at home, you might be able to access your online account using a computer in a bank branch.

You might also be able to access your online bank account through a secure connection at a friend or relative’s home.

If you have a smartphone, you might be able to get a cheap data plan which you can use to access your bank account online.

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Find out more

Protect yourself against scams

Unfortunately, when doing anything online, it’s easy to be targeted by scammers.

Find out more about identifying scams, including knowing when your bank has legitimately contacted you via email, in our beginner’s guide to scams.

It’s also important to stay safe when transferring money. It can be easy to transfer money to the wrong account.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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