How to Enroll a BMO Bank Account for Online Banking

I only started to use online banking when I signed up for a Tangerine (formerly ING Direct) savings account a few years ago. Call me a “late adopter.” Then, last year, we opened a PC Financial account so that we could have unlimited free paper cheques to pay the constant stream of costs coming home from our children’s schools. We have “regular” bank accounts dating back to our first working days at a few of the Big Canadian Banks. Recently, I decided to opt to sign up our BMO joint chequing account for online banking; here’s how to do it.


How to Limit Your Risk of Bank Account Fraud from Debit Card Abuse, ABM Phishing and Other Shenanigans

We’ve had our BMO joint chequing account since the days when you were (and we still are!) paid interest on your Big Bank chequing account balance. Yes, there were still a few Stegosaurs in the swamps back then. We created the account solely to pay bills because –get this—we were worried about the risk of exposing the bulk of our money to cheque, pre-authorized withdrawal and ABM frauds.

Yes, that’s right: we were worried about losing our money even before there were such things as debit cards, online banking, tap-and-pay, e-transfers and all the things that now seem so routine.

The account was set up as a standalone. To put money in the account, we wrote a cheque from one of our other banks and deposited it at the teller. So our total exposure to loss was limited to what was in the account at any given time, which was usually significantly under $5000.

I didn’t opt for online banking for this account before now because I didn’t see any need. I can easily walk to our branch. BMO doesn’t have photo cheque deposits, yet, so there was little incentive to change.

Recently, however, I decided I would like to be able to check the balance and the transactions more easily. While it exposes the account to another type of fraud, the risks are not really that great. So it’s time to go online.

What Do You Need Handy to Sign Up for BMO Online Banking?

You’ll need

  • your debit card
  • your bank account number
  • another new password, this one 6 characters in length

How to Enroll a BMO Chequing Account for Online Banking

  1. Go to the BMO website and find the online banking Sign In link. Click on it.
  2. If desired, click on the link to view and listen to a video about Personal Account online banking.
  3. Click on the link: Register now
  4. Under the heading For BMO Debit Card Holders, click on the Register Online button.

The Online Banking Registration Step 1 of 4 Page

  1. In the Bank Card field, type the rest of your Debit Card number.
  2. In the Account Number field, type the last four digits of your Savings or Chequing Account Number.
  3. Click on the Continue button.

The Online Banking Registration Step 2 of 4 Page

  1. In the appropriate box, type the number of bank accounts linked to your debit card.
  2. Answer the personalized question appropriately.
  3. Click on the Continue button.

The Online Banking Registration Step 3 of 4 Page

  1. Click on the link and read the Electronic Banking Services Agreement.
  2. If you still want to proceed click on the I Agree button.
    (If not, click the Exit button.)

The Online Banking Registration Step 4 of 4 Page
You now need to create a password for online and telephone banking for use with your debit card. It’s a 6-character password.

Note that if you use letters, when you telephone bank you will have to use the corresponding number.
2 = ABC
3 = DEF
4 = GHI
5 = JKL
6 = MNO
7 = PQRS
8 = TUV
9 = WXYZ

  1. In the Enter your New Password field, type your password.
  2. In the Re-enter your New Password field, type the password again.
  3. In the Email Address field, type an email address to reach you to re-enable access in the event of difficulties.
  4. Click on the Continue button.

The Confirmation Page

You will be thanked for enrolling. (They’re welcome.)

To understand how to sign in to online banking in the future, click on the Click Here link.

Signing In to Your Bank Account Online for the First Time

  1. To start online banking immediately, click on the Login button.
  2. In the Debit Card field, type the remainder of your debit card number.
  3. In the Password field, type your new password.

The Set Up Enhanced Sign In Security Page

You will now be prompted to set up additional security controls.

Specifically, you will choose an image and a personal phrase. Those will be displayed each time you sign in before you enter your password. If you don’t see them, don’t enter your password! You’re not on the BMO site!

You will also select and answer three questions that can be used by BMO to authenticate who you are. Be sure to select information that no one else will easily know.

Optionally, you can select whether or not to recognize your computer.

Click on the Set Up Now button.

The Set Up Your Personal Phrase and Image Page

  1. In the Enter Your Personal Phrase field, type a phrase that you will remember and that is something you will not detest reading every single time you sign in.
    It should be 10-50 characters long.
  2. If you dislike the pre-selected image, like I did, you can choose another one by clicking on the Change Image link.
    Be forewarned, they have a LOT of banal images. You may have to click See More Images quite a few times to find one you can put up with.
  3. Click on the image you want to select. (after you give up and randomly choose one, if you’re like me)
  4. Click on the Continue Button.

The Set Up Your Enhanced Sign In Security Questions Page

  1. Read the information on the page about when you will be asked these questions and whether you can modify them in the future.
  2. From the drop-down list, select your first challenge question.
  3. In the Answer 1 field, type your answer to the question.
  4. From the drop-down list, select your second challenge question.
  5. In the Answer 2 field, type your answer to the question.
  6. From the drop-down list, select your third challenge question.
  7. In the Answer 3 field, type your answer to the question.
  8. If you are not security conscious and frankly should not be allowed to online bank, you may check the box beside Yes, recognize this computer, it is a computer I trust and use often.
    Transparent 5 pixel space to help format the page
    When checked, when you use this same computer to sign in, you will NOT be asked a challenge question.
    Image of 5 blank pixels to help space out text properly
    Why do you want to REDUCE the security for your money!?! Leave the box unchecked. Answer the question each time. For one thing, it’ll make it easier to remember the correct answers when you’re trying to sign in from another computer during an emergency, perhaps even in another country.
    Image of 5 blank pixels to help space out text properly
  9. Click on the Continue button.

The Review Page

Review the information you entered and make sure it makes sense.

If it does, click on the Complete Security Set Up button.

The Confirmation Page

Read the information.

Click on the Continue to Online Banking button.

If you get the annoying Welcome! Popup window, click on the Continue to Online Banking button on it.

You’re in! (finally)

Hopefully your bank account will show up with the proper balance. Mine did.

What Did I Find When I Logged In to my BMO Account Online?

Well, to my dismay I found they have linked my BMO credit card to my debit card! I had no idea that they had done that. So I will be getting that removed immediately.

[Or maybe not. Apparently, what I am seeing is what the Teller sees when they swipe my Debit card at the bank. So unless I go into the branch and object, I cannot easily remove my credit card number from the display for my online banking. The telephone support reps cannot change it. I’ll brood about this some more before I decide what to do.]

I also saw that even though we have no money in it, they report our RESP account. We transferred all the money to InvestorLine years ago but I guess they don’t close the account when you do that. I think I’d better close it before they start charging me some inactivity fee or whatever.

When I checked My Contact Information, I discovered they have an outdated business telephone number for me. So I fixed that online immediately.

Oh cool! When I clicked on my bank account I discovered I received a dividend payment today. Nothing like finding unexpected money!

When You Are Finished Online Banking at BMO

Click on the Sign Out link.

Clear your cache and close your browser session.

Why Don’t I Just Close the BMO Account and Do All my Debit and Banking through PC Financial or Tangerine?

I probably should. But I have a sentimental streak about a metre wide.

I also like our BMO account and our branch. I like the tellers, who will easily clear a $10 000 cheque for me without a hold. I like that I can walk to the ABM if I want to get cash.

I like earning interest on a chequing account at a major Canadian bank if only for the bragging value.

And I still like to reduce the amount of money exposed to potential fraud. I only use debit from my BMO account. If some nefarious evil-doer gets my debit card info, and if BMO refuses to protect me from my losses, the most I will be out is the balance of this standalone BMO account. And I use debit a lot. I just counted, and I made 12 purchases on debit last week.

So while Spock would say it’s illogical, I’m going to keep our BMO account a while longer. I just think I’ll risk exposing it to online banking so that I can keep a closer eye on the transactions flowing through it.

It still is a standalone account. I won’t be linking it electronically to our other banks. It’s just too easy to drop a cheque in whenever I want.


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Do you still have any bank accounts with no online access? Do you think you’ll just leave them that way? Please share your views on online banking with a comment.

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