Step Up Your Digital-Banking Security With These 7 Tips

Digital banking services (including online and mobile banking) add speed and convenience for today’s consumers. And they make it easier than ever for these consumers to do things like transfer money, pay bills and even deposit checks with just a few clicks and/or swipes — from wherever they may be.

For these reasons and more, large portions of Americans now choose to use digital banking services regularly. In fact, according to a 2023 survey conducted for the American Bankers Association, nearly three-quarters of Americans now do most of their banking via a mobile app or online banking.

Digital banking safety

Of course, with this many consumers using online and mobile banking services, the practice was bound to grab the attention of fraudsters and thieves. This raises the questions: Is online banking safe? And is mobile banking safe?

The answer to each of these questions is yes, as reputable financial institutions implement a long list of highly advanced and thoroughly tested security measures to ensure secure online and mobile banking for their customers. But by taking some extra precautions, consumers can add still more layers of security to their digital banking activities.

7 (more) ways to keep your digital banking safer

Here at Arthur State Bank, we take our customers’ security very seriously. And to help customers keep their money and information better protected, we’ve already posted one blog article on ways to make your digital banking safer, titled “9 Tips, Tricks and Tools for Safer Online Banking.”

But there’s still more consumers can do to protect their personal/financial information and their money when banking online or via a mobile app. Want to add even more security to your online and mobile banking activities? Consider taking these seven additional steps to protect yourself and your account from hackers and thieves:

  1. Change your passwords regularly — In addition to creating strong passwords (see the previously mentioned “9 Tips …” blog article for some ideas on ways to do that), security experts recommend that consumers change their passwords at least every 90 days. This is because the longer a user’s password stays the same, the longer hackers have to make repeated attempts at cracking it — and creating an all-new password would take any such attempts back to square one.
  2. … and skip the login saves Saving your account-login credentials on a website or app that offers this convenience can save you time when you return to access your account. But this is typically not the best idea if your device is accessible by others — especially on banking and other financial-services websites and apps — as doing so can make it easier for other users to access your accounts on your device. (For this reason, most banking and financial-services websites and apps will only save your username, requiring you to re-enter your password for access every time you visit.)
  3. Employ a unique username — It’s commonplace among consumers to use their names (or some variation thereof) as their usernames for their various online accounts. And while this can make your username easy to remember, it can also make it easier to guess — leaving you more vulnerable to hackers. Instead, consider creating usernames that you can remember, but without using your actual name or other easily discoverable personal details such as your year of birth.
  4. Avoid banking on public computers or public Wi-Fi — Anytime you’re using a public computer or a public Wi-Fi network, it’s impossible to know with 100% certainty who might be able to observe or track your activities. And in the case of a public computer, subsequent users might be able to see your past activities by reviewing the browser’s history. So particularly when it comes to using websites and apps geared toward banking and other financial services, it’s best to employ extreme caution on public computers and public Wi-Fi networks — or even to steer clear of them altogether, especially if they’re unsecured.
  5. Check your account activity online regularly — Online and mobile banking make it faster and easier than ever to keep an eye on your accounts by doing things like checking your balances and reviewing your account activities. In fact, they typically enable users to view account balances and transactions in real time — from anywhere and at any time, and without having to wait for a bank statement to arrive in the mail. And by regularly reviewing your account activities, you can more quickly catch and report any suspicious transactions you might discover.
  6. Be leery of links — To avoid falling victim to phishing and smishing scams, it’s a good idea to refrain from clicking on any links you may receive via email or text, as these can be designed to look legitimate while sending you to bogus/fraudulent websites. Instead — and especially when visiting banking or other financial-services websites — try to make a regular practice of typing in the web address of the site you’re visiting, or even bookmarking the sites you visit regularly in your browser.
  7. Ensure app legitimacy and security — Especially when installing any apps that require access to your banking or other financial accounts, it’s critical to confirm that they’re legitimate and secure. If installing a mobile banking app, it’s best to follow a download link directly from your bank’s website if possible. And when downloading from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, be sure to read the app’s reviews and check its developer details to ensure that it’s legitimate before proceeding.


Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit

Arthur State Bank graphic
Man doing his banking online is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.