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Online Banking Is Safer Than You Might Think

Online banking appeals to many because it's fast, easy and convenient. But some still shy away from it, and for all the wrong reasons, according to recent data. The 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report, released by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and Javelin Strategy & Research, provides new insight on how identity fraud occurs. Bottom line? The Internet is safer than you might think. According to the report, 90 percent of data compromise takes place through traditional offline channels. In fact, online banking can reduce the harm caused by identity theft because electronic account monitoring is the fastest way to detect fraud.

"Frequent monitoring of your finances is made easier through online banking," said Barry Miller, director of technology and information security for NetBank, an Internet-only bank. "A consumer who banks traditionally and receives a statement in the mail can only monitor their account activity every 30 days at best." Online banking also eliminates the paper trail. The majority of theft cases, Miller says, are a result of information being obtained offline, through paper bank statements and credit card receipts, for example. Based on the Javelin study, the Better Business Bureau and other experts offered some steps to protect consumers from identity theft, urging people to replace paper bills, statements and checks with online versions; reviewing bank, credit card and bill statements weekly, which is easy through online account access; and using e-mail-based alerts to monitor transfers, payments, low balances and withdrawals or to detect any out-of-pattern activity.

Online banking continues to grow in popularity. The Online Banking Report puts the number of U. households using online banking at 40 million. And according to a survey conducted by Feedback Research, customer satisfaction is high. Eighty-three percent of the respondents who banked online were either "very" or "extremely" satisfied with their online transaction experiences, 79 percent said the transactions were easy and 77 percent said they were generally hassle-free. Almost 10 percent said they banked with an Internet-only bank. - NU.


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