Online Banking Information Security


Online banking has grown rapidly into a major new way to bank.  Some surveys show that more people prefer to bank online than in traditional ways.  This phenomenal growth has been accompanied by increases in the safety and security measures undertaken by banks and their customers.  But cyber-criminals are always looking for new ways to electronically break into your account and steal your money.


Merchants Bank of Indiana has security measures to protect your account information, but they can’t be effective without your help and cooperation.  Many account hijacking attempts come as a result of hacking into individual user accounts, and from there electronically breaking into your account using your information and security codes.

Some common sense and easily implemented precautions can help you safeguard your personal information:

  • Strong Passwords – Experts advise a combination of letters and numbers, and advise against using easily guessed passwords such as birthdays or home addresses.  Merchants Bank of Indiana requires your online banking password to meet the following criteria:  8 characters in length, must contain 1 numeric and 1 alpha character, must not be based on your personal information such as a tax ID number, cannot use a passcode that was used in the last six months, and must be different than any of your last six passwords.
  • Anti-Virus Protection – make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is current and scans your email as it is received.
  • Email Safety – Email is generally not encrypted so be wary of sending any sensitive information such as account numbers or other personal information in this way.
  • Log Off – Always log off of Internet Banking before closing your web browser.
  • Don’t Get Phished – Crooks are always trying to get your personal information, and they employ some ingenious methods.  Don’t respond to any unusual email requests for personal information, when you opened your account, you already provided it.  When in doubt, give us a call.
  • Monitor Your Accounts – When you check your accounts regularly, you can let us know immediately if you encounter anything that does not seem right.

HELPFUL TIP:  Studies show that those who monitor their accounts online often detect fraud earlier than those who rely solely on paper statements.


Cyber-fraudsters want to earn their money the easy way, by stealing yours!  Understanding how criminals try to trap you is your first line of defense.

  • PHISHING – This is the criminal attempt to steal your personal information through fraudulent emails or smart phone texts.  They are often very believable, luring the victim to a site that asks them to provide (or “verify”) personal financial details such as account numbers and social security numbers.  A variation is called Spear Phishing, which are electronic messages that appear to come especially to victims from their employer, usually a large corporation.  Cyber-security experts often term the mobile phone version of phishing Smishing, playing off the SMS, or Short Message Service terminology used in text messaging.  Remember:  Merchants Bank of Indiana will not send emails asking for your personal information, we already have it.
  • CARD SKIMMING – This is a criminal’s attempt to gain a victim’s personal information by tampering with ATM machines.  Fraudsters set up a device that can capture magnetic stripe and keypad information, such as PINs and account numbers.  Using ATMs you know and trust, as well as examining the machine closely, can help thwart this type of theft.
  • SPYWARE – This is the term used for criminal software that a victim unknowingly loads on a personal computer.  Once there, the spyware collects personal information and sends it to the criminal.  Up to date security software is the best defense.

HELPFUL TIP:  Cyber-criminals often prey on those who are most vulnerable, such as senior citizens or young adults, who may not be as aware of the technical aspects of the threats.


When it comes to guarding against cyber-fraud, one of the most important tools at your disposal is your credit report.  It details all of your credit transaction accounts, and will be the first place that unusual charges or entirely new accounts will appear.  You can monitor your report for FREE.

Since Federal law permits consumers to obtain a free report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, cyber-security experts advise that you get a free report from a different agency every four months.  Doing so will allow you to monitor your personal online security all year long.


Source:  Financial Education Corporation, Online Banking, Data Security & You.
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