Over the last week, your social media feed has probably been full of posts and reports regarding bank accounts getting hacked and funds being lost. The situation has gotten quite frustrating for affected clients, and the involved banks and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) are working together to investigate the incidents and catch the culprit. In the meantime, however, other netizens are worried about their finances and bank accounts. So how can you tell if your bank is giving your money enough protection? How do banks ensure security? These are the questions you should ask:
Is your bank enforcing data privacy policies?
To protect their clients, a bank must comply with and enforce data privacy policies. That means there shouldn’t be any PII (personally identifiable information), SPI (sensitive personal information), behavioral, or profiling data shared with any other party without your explicit permission. Make sure to double-check the permissions you ticked off for your bank accounts. This should be in their fine print (which you should read too!).
Do you get notifications for your transactions?
Most, if not all, banks automatically send alerts to clients for transactions made on their bank accounts and credit cards. It may come in the form of a text message, an email confirmation, or your bank app’s notification. In some cases, you may even receive calls confirming unusual transactions.
Are you required to validate withdrawals, transfers, and other transactions?
When making transfers through a bank’s website or app, you are usually asked to confirm the details of your transaction, including the amount you’re transferring and the destination account. Only after this confirmation step will you be prompted to confirm the transaction.
Are you asked for multi-factor authentication?
Most banks in the Philippines automatically require clients to confirm their identity through at least a two-factor authentication for any online transaction (and even phone call transactions). One-time passwords (OTP) are the most common authentication used by local banks, while some also employ biometrics (fingerprint scan or Face ID) for mobile banking transactions.
Do they have a geo-location fraud detection and prevention system?
The geo-location system flags any transactions that are outside the scope of the client’s usual transfer and purchase patterns. That may sound complicated, but most bank clients have probably encountered this at least once. A perfect example would be you making a purchase on a US website with your debit card, when you’ve never been there or you’ve never notified your bank about any travel. These unusual transactions would sometimes cause your bank to automatically block the transaction in case of fraud, and you’d have to call up their hotline to clear it. Yes, this is a bit of a hassle when you’re doing shopping on foreign sites, but these precautions are designed keep your money safe.
Are they able to quickly respond to fraud reports?
The first five minutes from the discovery of the fraud is the most crucial time for you to keep your account safe. This means your bank must be immediately available to respond to your requests. Does your bank have a fraud-specific hotline that can respond quickly to any reports? Hopefully, they don’t leave you listening to an automated voice or elevator music for ages.
Can you lock or freeze your account if needed?
Usually, only banks or other government or regulatory authorities can freeze bank accounts. If you suspect fraud, you can contact your bank and ask them to lock your account for you.
However, some banks are now offering a lock feature specifically for online banking. A client may choose to lock their account to prevent further logins and other online transactions from hackers.
How can you personally protect your finances?
If you answered a no for one of the questions above, you may need to look into your bank’s security features further. Could you fix it in your account settings or do they really just don’t have it?
Aside from these features in your bank accounts, here are some quick and easy tips to prevent your finances from being hacked:
- Use unique passwords for every account. If you’re worried about forgetting multiple passwords, you can create a base password and make a few tweaks for each account. You can also use a password manager or even write them down with pen and paper and keep it in a secure place.
- Get creative with your answers to security questions. These things are like passwords, so it might be best to not use anything personal.
- Install ad blockers. Ads from websites, even some legitimate ones, may come with malicious codes that could potentially get access to your personal information. It’s best to prevent these ads from being opened at all, so you don’t accidentally click on anything.
- Always turn on multi-factor authentication. This feature is usually automatically activated, but there are some instances where it is optional, so you should check your account settings regularly to make sure it’s turned on.
How else does your bank protect you? Tell us below.