Online Safety Tips

As use of the Internet continues to expand, more banks are using the Web to offer products and services or otherwise enhance communications with consumers.

The Internet offers the potential for safe, convenient new ways to shop for financial services and conduct banking business, any day, any time. However, safe banking online involves making good choices Ė decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises or even scams.

This brochure offers information and tips to help you if you are thinking about or already using online banking systems. We will tell you how to:

  • Confirm that an online bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured
  • Keep your personal information private and secure
  • Understand your rights as a consumer
  • Learn where to go for more assistance from banking regulators

Confirm that an Online Bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured

Whether you are selecting a traditional bank or an online bank that has no physical offices, itís wise to make sure that it is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured. Here are tips specifically designed for consumers considering banking over the Internet.

Read key information about the bank posted on its Web site.

Most bank Web sites have an "About Us" section or something similar that describes the institution. You may find a brief history of the bank, the official name and address of the bankís headquarters, and information about its insurance coverage from the FDIC.

Protect yourself from fraudulent Web sites.

For example, watch out for copycat Web sites that deliberately use a name or Web address very similar to, but not the same as, that of a real financial institution. The intent is to lure you into clicking onto their Web site and giving your personal information, such as your account number and password. Always check to see that you have typed the correct Web site address for your bank before conducting a transaction.

Verify the bankís insurance status.

To verify a bankís insurance status, look for the familiar FDIC logo or the words "Member FDIC" or "FDIC Insured" on the Web site.

FDIC logo

Also, you should check the FDICís online database of FDIC-insured institutions. You can search for an institution by going to Bank Find. Search by name, city, state or zip code of the bank, and click the "Find" button. A positive match will display the official name of the bank, the date it became insured, its insurance certificate number, the main office location for the bank (and branches), its primary government regulator, and other links to detailed information about the bank. If your bank does not appear on this list, contact the FDIC.

Also remember that not all banks operating on the Internet are insured by the FDIC. Many banks that are not FDIC-insured are chartered overseas. If you choose to use a bank chartered overseas, it is important for you to know that the FDIC may not insure your deposits. Check with your bank or the FDIC if you are not certain.