Last Updated: July 1, 2010
American households are starting to do more banking online. According to Tiburon Strategic Advisors, four in 10 U.S. households used online banking in 2008, up from just one in four in 2002. Most online banking customers use the Web to check their balances, and nearly half pay bills online, according to Tiburon's Redefining an Industry: Online Banking & Mortgages research report.
But increasingly Americans are searching the Web to find the bank or institution with the best savings account, checking account and/or certificate of deposit. If you are among those who is already an online bank customer or planning to become one, consider reading the federal government's tips for safe banking over the internet.
"The Internet offers the potential for safe, convenient new ways to shop for financial services and conduct banking business, any day, any time," according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). "However, safe banking online involves making good choices – decisions that will help you avoid costly surprises or even scams."
Here's a snapshot of the FDIC's tips for consumers considering banking over the Internet:
- Confirm that an online bank is legitimate and that your deposits are insured. Make sure you read key information about the bank posted on its web site. Also verify the bank's insurance status. To verify a bank's insurance status, look for the familiar FDIC logo or the words "Member FDIC" or "FDIC Insured" on the web site. For insurance purposes, be aware that a bank may use different names for its online and traditional services; this does not mean you are dealing with separate banks.
- Understand your rights as a consumer. Many regulations provide consumer protection for both traditional and online transactions. If you have any questions or concerns, first try to get answers from your bank. If you're still not satisfied, contact the appropriate federal regulator. For a brief overview of the regulations, log on to the FDIC's Consumer Rights Web page.
- Learn where to go for more assistance from banking regulators. If you know your bank's primary regulator, you may file your complaint online or via e-mail using one of the following methods. If you are not certain where to file your complaint, you may contact any of the agencies listed below and they will direct you to the appropriate office.