Going paperless doesn't mean going without financial and banking records, it just means going about them differently. And one of the first and most important considerations is doing it safely. Your computer should be equipped with firewall protection and software to protect against viruses and hackers, as well as spyware and popups that open doors to access. Some banks even suggest that you close your Internet browser after logging out of your account as an extra protection against those trying to get into private areas. Your protections along with those built into the Web sites of banks and other account providers offer security on many levels.
Beware of phishing scams outside of Web sites too, where official-looking e-mails attempt to get you to provide information [source: CNNMoney]. A good rule of thumb is to never reply or share any information by phone, e-mail or regular mail with anyone you haven't already done business with previously or have selected and checked out thoroughly.
Organizing files so you can access records and histories also is important. Setting up folders for e-mail billing, payment receipts and statement notices, for instance, provides easy access to amounts owed and billing cycle dates. Printing electronic copies in PDF or PNG files, for example, and filing them in folders by month and year is great for tracking every transaction should you need it for tax or accounting purposes. Backing up all of these folders on your hard drive and through at least one secondary source will ensure no data is lost in a disaster or computer crash. Using software or online accounting and budgeting platforms for coordinating online banking activities is another option for adding functionality, storage and organization.
And last, but also first, being able to access accounts by storing passwords and usernames in a safe and central, easy-to-remember location is important in simplifying online banking.
More Great Links
- CNNMoney. "Online Banking Tips." CNN.com. 2011. (Dec. 10, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson3/index5.htm
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). "Safe Internet Banking." FDIC.gov. July 15, 2010. (Dec. 10, 2011) http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/online/safe.html
- Kim, Susanna. "Citibank Breach: 6 Tips to Bank Online Safely." ABCNews.go.com. June 9, 2011. (Dec. 10, 2011) http://abcnews.go.com/Business/citibanks-data-breach-begs-question-online-banking-safe/story?id=13801024
- Laise, Eleanor. "Pushing Paperless: The Pros and Cons." WSJ.com. May 2, 2007. (Dec. 10, 2011). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117805967311388790.html
- Pulliam Weston, Liz. "Go Paperless for Safer Banking." MoneyCentral. MSN.com. Sept. 30, 2009. (Dec. 10, 2011) http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BetterBanking/GoPaperLessForSaferBanking.aspx?page=2
- Sekar, Anisha. "Green Banking 101: Greening Your Bank Account." Technorati.com. Sept. 3, 2011. (Dec. 10, 2011) http://technorati.com/blogging/article/green-banking-101-greening-your-bank/
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