When looking for ways to make your office eco-friendly, consider looking at the way you do your banking. Online banking provides an eco-friendly way to get your financial business done. Here are several reasons why online banking is the eco-wave of the future.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
By banking online, you no longer have to drive to the branch, which reduces your carbon emissions. Online banking also reduces the need for large bank branches that use a lot of energy. Because you no longer need to be at the bank, and can bank at any time, branches can have shorter hours, which reduces their energy drain.
If you are attempting to research products at different banks, you can do so straight from the bank’s website, rather than drive around to several different locations. For example, by going straight to the Discover Bank website, you can find out about the different products they offer, learn about Discover Bank’s current CD rates, or apply to open an account.
If you need information on the products, or current CD rates, for other banks—and compare the two—you only need to open a new browser window, not drive across town to another location.
When you go to a physical branch, you need deposit slips to deposit funds, checks or withdrawal slips to withdraw funds, and all manner of other paperwork for funds transfers, loans, and other transactions. Not only that, but once you turn in your form to initiate the transaction, the teller could use several other pieces of paper to conduct the transaction, then hands you yet another piece of paper at the end of the transaction.
With online banking, everything is electronic. The teller no longer has to stamp or mark multiple pieces of paper to conduct a deposit. You can have receipts sent to your email address, or simply view the transaction, and the time stamp, on your computer.
If you pay your bills or withdraw money with checks, the need to be pre-printed in large batches, whether you use them or not. By banking online, you can withdraw funds with your debit card at any compatible ATM, and pay bills with that same debit card. If you must pay with a check, you can use the automatic bill pay function, which issues a paper check on demand, rather than printing out hundreds of checks in advance on the off chance you might need one.
You can also deposit funds through direct deposit, which uses no paper. If you must receive checks, you can deposit them at an ATM, or using a check deposit app on your smartphone, which uses less paper than walking into a branch.
You can even take out loans and open an account online, without all the physical paperwork involved with walking into a branch.
Things to Consider
Although more eco-friendly than traditional banking, online banking is not without its drawbacks.
In the age of identity theft, conducting transactions online could make you more vulnerable to attack.
Because operating online is cheaper, a lot of banks and financial institutions are entering the online market. Some of these online banks are part of existing and well-established companies, others are brand new. Some of these brand-new companies could be fake. Additionally, because so much online banking communication occurs through email, it’s easy to fall prey to email phishing schemes. Here are some ways to protect yourself from potential fraud or identity theft.
1. Restrict Your Access
Don’t access your account from a public computer, this includes your office computer. All it would take for someone to access your account is having the browser set to automatically remember your login information, or leaving the computer without logging out completely. For your own safety, restrict your access to your personal computer, tablet, or smartphone.
If you must access your account from a public, or shared device, then make sure you log out completely, and that the browser is not set to memorize your login information.
2. Comfirm the Bank is Legitimate
Most banks require your social security number as part of the application process. Before you give the bank that information, make sure they are legitimate by checking their “About Us” page. The bank should indicate that they are FDIC insured, and indicates a physical location for its headquarters. The FDIC will also provide a list of insured institutions at their Bankfind website.
3. Avoid Email Links
Some fraudsters will send out fake emails warning people of problems with their accounts, and advising them to log in to correct the issue. Often these emails will contain links to fraudulent websites that look like the real thing. If you click on the link and attempt to log in, the site will gather that information and the fraudster can now use your login information to access your real account.
If you receive an email from your bank, advising you to log in to resolve an issue, ignore the link and contact your bank by phone. If you must go to your bank’s website, then manually enter the address into your browser, do not manually enter the address on the email.
If you suspect you have received a phishing email, you can report the issue to the fraud department at your bank.
4. Keep Your Personal Information Safe
Make sure your personal identification number (PIN) is something you can remember easily, but avoid using obvious numbers like birthdays, anniversaries, or other milestones.
Do not write your PIN down, or keep it near your ATM card. You should also periodically change your PIN, and your account password. Always sign the back of your debit card so that merchants can verify your signature.