Credit unions employ multiple levels of security to ensure that your financial information and transactions are protected. When it comes to online banking, this is especially true as more people and businesses carry an online presence. If you have concerns, it may help to understand that your credit union is your partner – they have a high stake in making their online banking secure. Here are just a few ways your credit union may be protecting your financial identity.
Encryption is the process developed by security experts to scramble data so that only the intended receiver can use it. The higher the number of bits in an algorithm, the more sophisticated the encryption. Basically, while you’re logged in to your credit union’s online banking, any information exchanged between you and your credit union is encrypted via industry-standard technology.
Credit unions use a transfer protocol called Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, or HTTPS. While HTTP is used daily to surf the Web, HTTPS adds a form of security that encrypts data. Any secured URL begins with "https://" rather than "http://". Next time you log in to your online credit union account, pay attention to your URL bar. When you see an icon of a closed lock in the upper corner of your browser window, you can be sure your data is being transmitted in an encrypted environment.
As another online security feature, a secure login helps protect your online credit union account from identity theft and fraud. The initial login setup is generally easy to do, and your user ID and password will remain the same until you decide to change it. Plus, there may be additional verification measures to ensure that it is really you accessing your account information.
If you keep your account page opened but don’t use the site for a time, typically just a few minutes, your session typically times out due to inactivity. To regain access to your accounts, you’ll need to log in again with your ID and secure password. This ensures that anyone who borrows (or steals) your device won’t be signed into your account.
Secure messaging is run through an internal server on the credit union’s website, so that you can contact a representative regarding sensitive matters like your account information without exposing it to risks possible with most email providers. Instead, sensitive data transfers internally within the credit union servers, ensuring the security of your financial information. These messages are not accessible from any email inbox stored on your device or computer. They are safe on the credit union’s site, protected by your login. This saves you from needing to install any software or get cryptographic keys before sending messages. With secure messaging, recipients are identified and transactions are logged by the secure message platform.
Do your part
Your credit union has your financial security as a top priority. But you must do your part to protect your own identity and finances by always keeping your debit or credit card in a safe location, being vigilant about where you use it and keeping yourself educated about potential scams so you don’t fall prey.
Spencer Tierney, NerdWallet