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Nilima Rahman knows a thing or two about online banking. She works in the Virgin Money South Shields store, and is also part of the Red Team, our crack squad set up to help people around the UK remotely with money issues throughout the Covid crisis. No question is too basic for the Red Team, so Nilima really has seen it all, and she has helped hundreds of our customers get online successfully. Here are her top tips for doing it yourself.

1. Feel the fear – and do it anyway

A lot of people we see are just scared of online banking – it’s the number one thing that comes up again and again – they are scared that someone else is going to get their money. They’re right that security is very important, but online banking is actually very safe, with lots of safety measures built in, plus it’s important to know that the bank will help you if something does go wrong.

It can be helpful to think of your online login details like a credit or debit card. Nobody can log in as you if you don’t give out your password, so it’s just like with a debit card: if you lose your debit card you would let us know, and if there are any transactions you don’t recognise on your account you should let us know, and we will help. It’s not a whole different world.

2. Be password proficient

There are some basic things you need to know. Never give your password to anyone, not even the bank. We will never ask for your passwords. Don’t write them down anywhere for anyone else to find, and don’t repeat passwords across lots of different sites you use. It’s tempting to make every password you use the same so you can remember them, but it’s not a good idea, because if one of your less secure accounts gets hacked, it could compromise that password for your online banking as well, which you don’t want.

Make sure your password is something memorable but not easy to guess. One tip I heard was, take a phrase from your favourite song and use the first letters of each word as your password. So, for example, ‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone’ becomes ‘icscntrhg’…Very hard for anyone to work out, but easy for you to remember! Make sure it’s a mix of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. It makes it a stronger password and harder for anyone to guess.

3. Invest time in setting up your device

Use the same device whenever you can (ideally, your own) and take some time getting it set up properly at the start. If you struggle with this, one of our Red Team can help Link opens in a new window. On your smartphone, there will be different ways of logging in – fingerprints, Face ID etc. – it’s got two-factor security authentication that makes it really safe and secure. But if you don’t have a smartphone, that’s fine too, you can log in on a computer. We have a demo of how to do it that you can find here Link opens in a new window.

If, for some reason, you do have to use someone else’s computer to access your account, never ever save your details, and when you log off, clear the cookies and the cache afterwards Link opens in a new window. It sounds complex but I promise it isn’t. If you need a demo, we can do one for you next time you’re in store – we have to make sure we show every customer in store that we’ve cleared their details from our iPads.

4. Practice makes perfect

Make sure you’re logging in regularly – I do it on a daily basis and recommend you do too. The more you practise, the quicker and more savvy you will get. You have access to your account all the time, at any time of day so no excuses!

If there is a transaction that you can’t identify, contact us and we will look into it. Most of the time, you are covered by us. If you keep up to date with your accounts, we’ll be able to investigate it much more easily – just like we would do with a debit card or credit card.

5. Simple checks before you move money

The most popular thing people want to do is to check their account balance and transfer money – so useful in today’s world, where we are used to being able to pay for things quickly. When you transfer money, you’ll get a pop-up message showing you your money’s gone through, so you know it’s safely happened. One note about transferring money: if you get a message saying ‘Name and account details don’t match’, do go back to the person that gave you those the details to check they are definitely right before you proceed.

6. Cheque mate

A lot of people don’t know they can submit cheques of up to £1,000 themselves online on our app, it’s a really neat feature. You just have to take a photo of the front and back of the cheque with your phone, and it saves you a journey into the bank.

Savings pots are another great feature of our Virgin Money mobile app Link opens in a new window. If you’re saving for something in particular, you can create a pot for it and put in a target, it shows you how much you have to save, or for how long, to achieve the target within the time you’ve set.

7. Don’t forget, we’ve got your back

People often worry about making typos – i.e. they’ll type in a digit wrong, send money to the wrong person and it will be ‘their fault’. But what people don’t realise if that if this happens, the bank will still help – we’ll try and trace the money and get it back for you, even if you did put the wrong details in.

I’m locked out of my mobile banking app. What should I do?

I’m locked out of my mobile banking app. What should I do? #MoneyOnYourMind Link opens in a new window
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