Online banking

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

How to use online banking

Online banking allows you to access your accounts and make various financial transactions on the Internet. For example, you can use online banking to pay bills or transfer money to other accounts. You can bank online using either a computer or a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.

Generally, online banking transactions cost less than using in-branch teller services or ATMs.

Online banking lets you check your transactions online as they are processed. You don’t have to wait for a monthly statement.

In most cases, you’ll need to do the following before you can use online banking services:

  • register for online banking with your financial institution
  • enter your debit card number
  • create a username and password
  • read and accept the terms and conditions

Online banking with your computer

To access your accounts using online banking from your computer you must:

  1. go to your financial institution’s website
  2. enter the following information:
    • username
    • password
    • answers to security questions

Online banking from a computer allows you to:

  • access your accounts
  • make future-dated bill payments
  • transfer funds between accounts
  • open a new account
  • schedule regular payments or transfers
  • apply for loans

Mobile banking

You can use mobile banking anywhere you take your mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. You can use a mobile banking application (app) or an online banking site from your mobile device.

Mobile banking application (app)

To access your accounts using a mobile banking application you must:

  1. download your financial institutions mobile banking app to your mobile device
  2. open the app on your device
  3. sign in using your username and password

Only download apps and updates from a trusted source, such as:

  • directly from your institution’s website
  • from your mobile device’s app store

Banking apps on your mobile device may only allow certain types of transactions such as:

  • money transfers
  • paying bills

If there are services you're unable to access from your banking app, you may be able to access them by logging in to your financial institution’s mobile site through an Internet browser on your mobile device.

Mobile banking sites

Mobile banking sites let you access your accounts from your mobile device without downloading a mobile banking app.

Banking through an Internet browser on your mobile device is similar to online banking with your computer. Mobile banking sites may give you a more detailed view of your accounts and allow you to access more services than using a mobile banking app.

Protection from unauthorized transactions when online banking

Most financial institutions have policies that protect you from transactions that you didn’t make or approve using your institution’s online banking service. These are called unauthorized transactions.

It's your responsibility to always keep your banking and online banking details to yourself.

If you give your online banking information to anyone, including your spouse, partner, a family member or a friend, you may:

  • risk losing the protection against unauthorized transactions offered by your financial institution
  • be responsible for any unauthorized transactions on your account

Ask your financial institution about its online banking service commitments and policy on unauthorized transactions.

Your responsibilities when banking online

To ensure that you’re protected from financial loss from an unauthorized transaction:

  • don’t share your personal identification number (PIN), password or personal security questions and answers with anyone, not even family members
  • manage your banking information, including log-on IDs and passwords, according to the terms of your financial institution’s user agreement
  • check your accounts regularly for transactions you didn’t make or approve
  • contact your financial institution or service provider as soon as you find an error

You may need to take additional steps to protect yourself when banking online. Read your account agreement and your financial institution’s online banking or electronic access agreement to learn more.

Choosing a password and PIN

Pick a strong password that isn't easy to guess for your online banking accounts. You may be responsible for transactions you didn’t make or approve if you use a password that’s easy to guess. Combine upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols such as # or @ when creating your password.

Financial malware, or malicious software, can damage your devices and put your financial information at risk. You must take steps to protect your passwords and PINs from such software or you may be responsible for transactions you didn’t make or approve.

Protecting your personal financial information online

Protect yourself when banking online to help prevent criminals from capturing or copying your financial information.

Criminals may see what you send over public networks, such as those that you access from coffee shops, bookstores and public libraries. This information includes things such as your passwords, bank account numbers and credit card numbers.

To protect your financial information make sure you do the following:

  • don’t use public Wi-Fi or public computers for online banking
  • don’t share your user IDs, passwords and PINs with anyone
  • use a strong password that can’t be easily guessed for your online banking accounts
  • use different passwords for each of your financial accounts
  • don’t allow your computer or mobile device to remember your password or banking information, such as your account number
  • don’t give your personal information to your financial institution by email
  • don’t respond to suspicious messages or click on links within them
  • log into your account regularly to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions

Learn more about how to protect your money online.

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