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Keep track of your money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with an online banking account. Use the bank’s secure website to manage your current account.

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Online banking

Forget queues, paperwork and limited weekend opening hours – online banking does away with all of it, providing free and secure access to your bank accounts around the clock.

Whether you just want to check your balances, make a payment to someone or transfer money between accounts, you can do it all with just a few clicks at your own convenience.

It’s not surprising then that online banking has taken off in a big way. According to the Payments Council, more than 26 million people in the UK now use internet banking.

While banks and security companies have developed robust and sophisticated security practices, unfortunately there are still unscrupulous folk out there working just as hard to circumvent them – so you still need to be on your guard.

Benefits of online banking

Many of us are in work during weekdays, which means a trip to the bank involves either a rushed lunch after wasting our lunch breaks in a bank queue or spending our Saturday mornings in our local branch.

Thanks to internet banking, many of the simple tasks we used to have to go to the bank for can now be done at home using a computer. You can transfer cash to another account yourself, or check your transaction history on screen rather than having to queue up for a print-out.

In terms of security, we used to have to wait for our monthly statement to come in the post before we could spot any inaccuracies or suspicious activity on our accounts. With an online bank account, we can monitor them in (almost) real-time.

Also, most online banks allow you to search your transaction history, which is extremely useful if you run into a dispute over an allegedly unpaid bill because you’ll be able to prove it one way or another.

Some even have instant messaging services which allow you to chat with an advisor and get answers to your questions.

There are, in fact, very few things you can do in a physical branch that you can’t do with an internet bank account.

Banking safely

The banks do everything they can on their end to make sure you’re banking safely, but you need to do your part too.

As best practice, never follow a link to your bank from an email, as the email could be a ‘phishing’ scam. Instead type the web address directly into the address bar or use a search engine to find it.

If you are using a search engine, be sure to check the site you click through to has the correct URL and is definitely your bank. Cyber criminals sometimes create extremely convincing ‘spoof’ sites to get your log-in details. One thing they can’t fake, however, is the URL – so check it’s exactly right.

Once on the site, make sure there is a padlock symbol in the browser’s address bar indicating the page is secure. A padlock on the web page isn’t enough because that can easily be faked – instead look to the left or right of the web address.

Once you’re logged in, the web address should change from beginning with “http” to “https”, indicating a secure connection.

If your bank offers additional security software, such as NatWest’s Rapport, use it alongside your computer’s own security software for added protection.

If you do notice any unusual or inexplicable transactions in your online statement, contact your bank directly by phone and query or report it.

Don’t ever share your login details with anyone and if you use a shared computer for accessing your online bank accounts, don’t allow the browser remember your log-in credentials when prompted.

Finally, make sure you’re fully logged out before you leave your bank’s website.