On the Straight Talk blog, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that more and more people are living their lives online. For instance, the rise of digital has allowed people to work from home, while online-only institutions like Ally Bank have enabled consumers to manage their finances from just about anywhere.

But with new technologies come new concerns. Just about anyone with a laptop or mobile device has most likely considered the banking security risks of sending sensitive data — like Social Security or credit card numbers — over the Internet.

Because of this, Ally Bank works hard to give their customers a secure online banking experience that helps them avoid becoming one of the FTC’s estimated 9 million victims of identity theft each year.

David_Shroyer_Ally_BankA Dedicated Team

“Ally is very fortunate to have recruited world-class associates to bring the best online identity authentication and fraud solutions to our customers,” says David Shroyer, Information Security Officer for Ally Bank. “We develop our technology and solutions with security in mind from conception, all the way through production.”

As with their customer service offerings, Ally has a dedicated banking security team that works to ensure your transactions are safe. With Ally Bank’s Online & Mobile Security Guarantee, you won’t be liable for fraudulent transactions on your account as long as you report them to us within 60 days from when your statement is made available.

“We have teams that focus specifically on identity authentication and security solutions,” Shroyer says. “These folks are actively looking at emerging technologies, new regulations and innovative ways to stay ahead of the bad guys who look to profit from illegal actions.”

In fact, look for exciting changes at Ally Bank in the coming months, including a revised login process with a cleaner, simpler design, and additional methods for identity authentication. As always, Ally will continue to focus on helping customers protect themselves while online — and not just while visiting Allybank.com. Ally sees itself as a customer partner and wants them to know that they have an ally helping them stay secure across their entire online experience.

Safe Mobile Banking

The Washington Post points out that a Federal Reserve survey found 28 percent of all cell phone users have banked online with their device. At Ally Bank, meanwhile, adoption of our Ally eCheck Deposit? feature doubled in 2012. Because of these and other similar trends, mobile security is just as important to Ally as desktop-banking security.

“When building our mobile bank application, we made sure it was developed securely and avoided any pitfalls that are common in other applications, such as storing information on the device that shouldn’t be retained, or providing information that could be used by a fraudster,” Shoyer tells us. “Ally offers the same level of security in the online space, the mobile space and even the call center space. We don’t differentiate our technologies just because it’s on one channel or another.”

How to Stay Safe

While no one can predict when or where those bad guys will strike, there are steps you can take to ensure your online information stays safe. Shroyer notes that prevention often starts offline, which is why he encourages people to shred documents that contain account numbers and other sensitive information, and always protect their IDs and passwords — not just for their online banking, but for email and other sites where personal information can be gleaned about you. Even social media sites like Facebook can be used to garner information about you to bypass security in other areas.

As for online bank safety, Shroyer recommends monitoring your account for suspicious activity, regularly updating your antivirus software and always creating strong passwords. (Check out Ally’s tips on how to create secure passwords.)

“You also want to make sure you change those passwords as often as possible,” he tells us. “It’s also a good idea not to use the same password with your bank as, say, your email provider. You want to make sure that if an email account is compromised, the bad person isn’t able to go to your other online accounts and have access. “

Shroyer also advises people to watch out for suspicious emails that claim to be from Ally, but contain misspellings or a strange sense of urgency. These are sometimes known as “phishing” scams — fraudulent messages intended to get you to share your personal information.

Shroyer notes that Ally will never send you an email asking for your username, password or account number. If you do receive a suspicious email that is supposedly from Ally, forward it to abuse@ally.com, or call Ally Bank at 877-247-ALLY (2559).

What to Do If Fraudsters Strike

If you feel the safety of your Ally account has been compromised, Shroyer urges you to call Ally immediately. “All our agents are trained to help the customer by putting a hold on the account or suspicious transactions. They can also make changes so the fraudster doesn’t have access to the account anymore.”

As a reminder, Shroyer notes that Ally Bank customers can rest assured that — in addition to their Ally deposits being insured by the FDIC up to the maximum permitted by law — Ally also provides an Online & Mobile Security Guarantee for fraudulent transactions.

It’s just another way Ally works to make sure its customers feel secure.

Have you ever fallen victim to online fraud? What steps do you take to ensure your personal information is secure?