Online Banking Is Much Easier—But Is It Too Risky?

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We live in a time when technology has made banking much more convenient. But few people realize the risks that come with the convenience.

Online banking is a good example. You can pay your bills from your living room. However, a hacker can pay also his bills, from Russia, with your money. It is true that you might be able to recover your stolen funds from the bank after a few weeks, but we have heard of instances where the banks have refused to pay. We recommend that you disable your online payment capability and pay your bills the old-fashioned way. It's a little more inconvenient, but the inconvenience does not compare to the inconvenience of having your cash frozen for weeks or possibly losing it.

A cousin to online banking is the debit card linked to your account. Here the risk is that your identity can be stolen at a location where you use the card, and your account can then be drained of cash. Banks normally return the stolen cash, but you may have to wait several weeks to get your money back. We believe that debit cards are much better than credit cards, but we recommend that you establish a separate bank account with limited cash balances so your finances will not be thrown into chaos if, or more likely, when, your card information is stolen.

Another risky convenience is direct deposit. The problem here is that, if you have a banking problem like an identity theft or garnishment, the automatic deposits can be taken right out of the account. A direct deposit of your tax refund also shows the IRS a way to garnish your account if they decide you owe them money. And, if you owe money to the bank where your account is located, there is normally a "Right of Offset" which allows the bank to take your money if they become worried about your debt. We advise people not to use direct deposit and not to deposit significant cash in banks where they owe money. In cases such as Social Security payments for which you must now use direct deposit, we recommend that you use a separate bank account which, if necessary, could be structured to protect it from creditors.

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On top of it all is the risk that the whole banking system may one day become toxic as the government continues to print money. Be sure to have some green cash and, if possible, some junk silver or gold on hand in case a meltdown occurs.

As Solomon said, "a prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished" (Prov. 22:3).

Toxic conveniences open you up to unnecessary risks from theft, creditors and the government. Take steps to protect your family now. Before it is too late.

Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries, spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.

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