6 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Financial Information Online
June 11, 2020 Author: Tess Downing, MBA, CFP®, Complete View Financial
Over the past decade, a growing portion of payments and economic transactions have taken place entirely online. Digital payments offer a tremendous level of convenience and make it easier to keep track of our finances. However, while the digital era does indeed have its upsides, it has also introduced some risks. Make sure you protect your financial information from cyber attacks today.
In 2019, there were an estimated 3.2 million instances of identity theft, many of which were made possible because sensitive personal information (such as financial information) was not effectively secured. Though most banks may have systems in place that can help you recover your lost funds, the best thing you can do is take preventative actions to keep your information safe.
Below, we will discuss 6 things you can do to increase your cybersecurity and keep your personal information secure.
1. Create Difficult Passwords
10 percent of all people still use at least one of the ten most common passwords, including “password” and “123456.” 83 percent of people use passwords that are considered weak. Rather than risking your information by using a password that can be randomly guessed, using a random password generator—along with a corresponding password management tool, such as Last Pass—will reduce the likelihood of your information being compromised.
2. Avoid Online Banking on Public Computers
Public computers, such as the ones you will find at the library, create several risks that can be easily avoided. When possible, avoid doing any online banking in public. You should also avoid using any platforms that ask for your credit card information, social security information, and any other risky info.
3. Set up Automatic Notifications
One of the best ways to know whether someone is trying to access your bank account (or any other sensitive accounts) is to set up automatic alerts. These alerts can include notifications for when an account was being accessed from a new device or for when there are any failed password attempts. If you do get a concerning alert, contact your bank immediately.
4. Use Multi-Step Verification
Strong passwords are a great way to protect your financial information, but if you can include additional verification steps, you’ll be even better protected. This can include security questions or even facial recognition. Each additional step incorporated into the process will make your information more difficult to access.
5. Remove Digital Records
By sharing your personal information via email, social media, or texts, you will be increasing your digital footprint and making it easier for identity thieves to get what they want. In general, you should avoid sending personal information (SSN, tax info, credit card info, bank account info, etc.) through these mediums to the greatest extent possible—but if you must use these platforms, be sure to clear your digital record once you’re done. Periodically removing caches, cookies, and other digital traces will also be very beneficial.
6. Frequently Check Your Accounts
The only sure way to know that none of your financial information has been stolen, is to check your financial records and verify that everything is correct. Not every identity thief will drain your account the very first day they get your information—some will begin by making small purchases (under $10) to see what they can get away with. Check for any transactions that you know you didn’t make, no matter how small they might be. Out of state and international transactions will be especially suspicious. Checking your accounts regularly will not only help you prevent fraud, but it will also help you build some healthy financial habits.
In the digital era, it’s important to take steps to keep all personal information safe. Though taking these extra steps can be a bit of a hassle, at times, they can each help you create an additional layer of protection.
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