The previous chapters have described various ways to spend money online, whether on Wonder Woman Pez dispensers from eBay or last-minute weekend trips to Charleston. This chapter’s different: It tells you how to manage, save, and make money online through online banking, stock trading, and money-management sites.
Tales of hackers, scams, and identity theft may make you nervous about trusting an electronic link to your literal life’s savings, but banks and financial companies have been working hard to have the best Internet security out there. Nowadays, most guarantee that your account will remain secure.
With such security measures in place, you can pay bills online, spruce up your financial portfolio, file your taxes, and much more, all from the comfort of your own computer. You can even trade stocks or apply for a mortgage wearing your bunny slippers—something you can’t do in real life without people whispering behind your back.
Many major American banks—Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Washington Mutual, and so on—have online banking capabilities. In most cases, all you need to sign up is your ATM/debit card, personal identification number (or PIN, otherwise known as your ATM passcode), and one of your bank account numbers. Check your monthly bank statement for the digits.
Most banks require that you use a relatively modern browser (technically, one that offers 128-bit encryption). If you’re using Internet Explorer 5.5 or later on Windows, Safari on the ...