More security for online banking

A man works on his laptop

KAI RYSSDAL: Procrastination happens to the best of us so I don't want to criticize here. Instead I'd like everyone out there who banks online, there are about 90 million of us, to prod our banks along. December 31st was a deadline of sorts for banks to get their act together about online security. Not all of them have. Marketplace's Tess Vigeland is here to tell us what this is all about. Tess, make us smart would you?

TESS VIGELAND: Well Kai, on New Year's Day, last Monday, some new federal guidelines went into effect that require banks to really go the extra mile to make sure that it's you when you logon to your account. Basically they're supposed to go beyond just asking you for a password, which is what a lot of us are used to at this point. Banks have all kinds of options to get this new security level. Some are pretty easy for both you and me. Being able to answer some questions that only you would know the answers to. Some of them are going to be behind the scenes, you won't actually see it. Some are a little bit more involved and they really act as an assurance for you that the site you're on is actually your bank. Bank of America, for example, has something called site key. And when you log into your account there's a display of an image that you've picked and also a phrase that you have picked. It's supposed to pop up before you enter your password. If it doesn't pop up you know that you're on one of these so-called spoof sites, which is an identical looking site and they're very realistic, I have to tell you, but it's not the actual bank.

RYSSDAL: And that frankly is a device that some of these phishing sites, phishing with a P-H, that's you know, a common tactic right?

VIGELAND: Yeah. And I don't know, has this ever happened to you?

RYSSDAL: Oh I can't even tell you how many times.

VIGELAND: Yeah, it certainly has to me. I've received e-mails that look for all the world like they're from my bank or my credit card company. They ask me to, like confirm my social security number of my password. You're not supposed to do that. I've been the victim of identity theft so I know I'm not supposed to respond to those sorts of things but a lot of people do. It's easy to get sucked into this kind of request. And especially when it warns you that if you don't respond that your bank account is going to close or something. But these new regulations are supposed to help you know that this is not appropriate. This is not actually your bank asking you for this information.

RYSSDAL: We bank online, my wife and I do, and we get electronic e-mails and notices and all this stuff. Haven't received a thing about this. How am I supposed to know when this is going to hit?

VIGELAND: Well sometimes you won't. As I said, a lot of banks are actually doing this behind the scenes. They're doing certain algorithms, you know, within the back office of the bank, if you will. Sometimes you will get notifications from your bank. If you haven't gotten anything, feel free to call your bank or your credit card company, say I've heard that there are supposed to be these new security rules, what are you doing? You should always feel free to call your bank and say what are you doing for me to make sure that my information, my very valuable bank information is safe with you?

RYSSDAL: Well worth the time. All right, Marketplace's Tess Vigeland. Thank you Tess.

VIGELAND: Thanks Kai.

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