Ally Bank announced last week in a press release that it’s offering security software free of charge to customers for downloading to protect their entire online experience. One of the important precautions to take if you bank online is to have the latest antivirus and anti-malware software installed on your computer. Ally Bank customers can now do this without any cost.
The security software is Webroot® SecureAnywhere. It’s not as well known as McAfee or Norton, but it has received good reviews at PCMag and PCWorld. According to Ally Bank’s overview of the software, Webroot SecureAnywhere does the following:
- Blocks viruses, spyware, phishing attacks, and other threats
- Continually updates itself so it's always current
- Identifies unsafe links and search results before you click
- Prevents malicious programs from changing your settings
One way hackers can break into your bank account is to steal your username and password by secretly installing keyloggers onto your computer. As you log into your bank account, the keylogger will record your username and password and send those to the thieves. Blocking spyware like keyloggers is one way a program like Webroot SecureAnywhere can protect you.
This service from Ally may not be helpful for some of us who already receive free security software from our internet access providers. For example, ATT provides McAfee free of charge to its U-verse customers. The only problem with this is that it makes it harder for you to change internet access providers. If you have the security software from Ally Bank, you can change providers without worrying about changing your security software. We just have to hope that Ally Bank will keep this service and keep it free for the long-term.
Another thing to keep in mind about online banking is that even if hackers are able to steal money from your personal account (not a business account), you will still be protected due to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. Here’s what the FDIC says about this Act:
Suppose a thief obtains your ATM card and uses it at an automated teller machine to withdraw money from your bank account. Under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, your losses are limited to $50 if you report your ATM card lost or stolen within two business days of discovering the loss. If you wait between two and 60 days of discovering the loss, you can be liable for up to $500 of what a thief withdraws. If you wait more than 60 days after receiving a bank statement that includes an unauthorized transfer, the law doesn’t require your bank to reimburse you for any losses. You’re not responsible, however, for any funds withdrawn after you notify your bank that the ATM card is lost or stolen.
At the top of Ally Bank’s security center, Ally lists its Online & Mobile Security Guarantee:
We guarantee that you will not be liable for any unauthorized Online or Mobile Banking transaction as long as you report the unauthorized transaction by calling us at (877) 247-2559 within 60 days from when your statement is made available.
So if you have avoided online banking due to fears of hackers, it’s time to reconsider your fears. Online banking offers many advantages over depending on visits to brick-and-mortar branches, phone calls and paper transactions. If you take reasonable precautions like maintaining security software and regularly monitoring your accounts, there is nothing to fear.