Internet banking is a tool to help customers manage their money and time efficiently. Banking online can also be cost-effective as it eliminates the need to order checks, buy postage or drive to the bank. Online customers also have the capability of comparing rates, fees and packages from the comfort of home. However, banking online also has its risks, as virtual thieves develop scams to swipe account information from unsuspecting customers.

Convenience and Constant Accessibility

Online banking customers with access to the Internet can access accounts online anytime and anywhere, creating convenient practices toward the maintenance and security of a checking or savings account. For example, if purchase transactions are made on a Sunday or after 5:00 p.m., your current balance from an ATM receipt will read the last-known balance during regular banking hours; this can be misleading. An account balance online will show customers the actual available balance, which is the difference between the last known "current' balance and recent transactions that are not fully processed.

Money Management and Educational Tools

Deposits and bill payments can be set up to move in and out a checking or savings accounts automatically, freeing up the customer from worrying about mailing in bill payments on time or depositing checks while out of town. Also, many banks offer financial management tools and advice and can also export account statements to Quicken, Microsoft Money or Microsoft Excel. This enables the customer to monitor spending habits, budget effectively and retain the optimal benefits from investments or savings accounts.

Signing Up and Becoming Familiar

Opening an online bank account can involve completing forms with a lot of small type. Completion of these forms usually involves proof of identification and Social Security number. If a joint account is opened, one party may be asked to sign a durable power of attorney over to the other. Once signed up, it may take some time to become familiar with the setup of the banking site. Most banks do have a call center to help new customers navigate the site; however, not all call centers are open 24 hours.

Exposure to Theft

"Phishing" scams and sophisticated computer hackers have put a new threat towards online wealth management. A popular device from would-be thieves is to send Internet banking customers emails that are strikingly similar in style to the banks masthead, complete with official logos. These emails as customers to "verify their account" by sending account information, PIN numbers, Social Security numbers or any other information that can allow a thief to gain access to funds. Most online banks will offer advice and education on how to recognize and avoid these scams.