Work & Money

Safer Online Banking and E-commerce

Payment apps, e-commerce and online banking make handling money incredibly easy, but they also make your financial information incredibly easy to steal.  Here’s how to stay safe.

Choose the right bank

Bank of America wins according to this  article about the 8 safest banks.   Citibank is a close runner up.

I can personally attest that Bank of America is always vigilant to possible scammers because I’ve gotten notices at the slightest hint of suspect activity on my account.

Look for these protections

You want your bank to have your back for safe online banking.   They should offer two factor authentication PLUS these extra perks.

  • Guarantee against unauthorized access. If someone steals your money, they will reimburse you the next day
  • Access to a single use card number. Some banks and credit cards offer one-time use virtual account numbers that allow you to shop online without revealing your card number.

Use the safest cash and payment apps

The most commonly used cash payment apps are Venmo, PayPal, Zelle and the Cash App.  Here’s a rundown of all of them with their pros and cons.

  • Zelle, by Bank of America, is the most secure cash app. Other banks offer it as well.  Most apps only require a phone number or email.  With Zelle both payer and payee have to have a Zelle account– which makes it more complicated, but more secure.   On the upside, it’s always free.
  • PayPal is private, has secure encryption technology and has been around forever. You can transfer funds for free if you denote them for “friends and family.”  The best feature of PayPal is their actual phone customer service. I’ve called and gotten my money back if an item never arrived.   eBay purchases are made through PayPal, which offers an extra layer of protection if your eBay seller is a scammer.
  • Venmo is very popular but the interface isn’t intuitive, privacy settings aren’t automatic, and payments can be misdirected to someone with a similar name. That means you’ll never see that money again–and customer service is nonexistent.
  • The Cash App is popular and easy with no social media features so there’s more privacy than Venmo. It also lets you invest in stocks and Bitcoin.

Stay vigilant when banking online 

Yes, you should go ahead and enjoy the ease of online banking and e-commerce.  However, don’t ignore the measures you can and should take to stay safe.  Here’s a overview of the most important one, some advice from The Motley Fool, and an article from Forbes that really digs down into financial safety online (but oh! those popups!).

Looking to learn more about online banking? Senior Planet will soon be launching a 2-week virtual course called Ready, Set, Bank! for Remote Learners. Participants will meet twice per week over Zoom and learn the basics of online and mobile banking, how to navigate a bank website, manage accounts, set up alerts, send money digitally, and more! The Ready, Set, Bank! for Remote Learners course will be available starting on May 17. To register, visit







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