Since the global pandemic hit in early 2020, more and more facets of society have moved online. From education to weddings, from counseling appointments to our jobs! Nearly everything is online. This trend toward digitalization has been on the rise for years and the appearance of coronavirus has sped up this process dramatically. If you are like most people, you primarily manage your finances online as it’s convenient and believed to be secure. Unfortunately, hackers are always attempting to access our information. But don’t worry – we’ve compiled this list to help you keep your personal information and finances safe.
If you’re shopping for a new credit card or bank account, look for FDIC-insurance (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), meaning the government insures the money up to $250,000 per owner. If you’re online shopping, try using a card that is FDIC-insured. This can give you extra protection and peace of mind knowing that your money is protected against false ads, hackers, and online thieves./span>
Look Into a Security Software or App
There are many different kinds of security software or apps for smart phones and computers. These usually protect against viruses and malware, which can be hidden in unfamiliar emails or certain websites. Norton, Avast, and McAfee are well-known mobile security apps and offer free trials. These programs work behind the scenes and protect you against what you can’t see.
Extra Fraud Protection
Some credit and debit cards have extra fraud protection features such as a money-back guarantee if you become victim to fraud. Ask your bank about these features and the procedures in case you ever become a victim.
Use Strong Passwords
Many websites require a strong password but creating one that is difficult to guess is important no matter the policy. Adding special characters, numbers, and a variation of caps and lowercase letters can make it difficult for someone to figure out your password. Make sure you don’t use commonly known facts about yourself such as birthdays, anniversaries, names, etc.
Sign Up for Transaction Alerts
Many banks offer notifications when a transaction is over a customizable amount. They can send you a text, email, or phone call. This can be crucial if someone uses your card while you’re on the go. Even if you made the purchase, you’ll have the security of knowing your bank is on top of your account. You can also check your bank’s mobile app daily on a secured network to ensure all transactions match your spending.
Check Your Credit Score Weekly
Your credit score is an indicator of your finances. If it drops significantly, it may be a sign of identity theft or fraud. Credit Karma, Mint, and even some bank apps allow free credit score reporting. Staying on top of your credit score may also help you create better financial habits.
Use a Shredder
Shred secure documents and old cards. Anything with an account number, bank information, social security, or other personal information should be shredded. Some libraries, UPS stores, and Staples offer low cost or free shredding.
Exercise Caution with Mobile Purchases
Because mobile banking and purchasing are relatively new, it’s easier for hackers to take information, especially if you’re using public Wi-Fi. Only make purchases from trusted websites on your mobile device and ensure you’re on a private network.
Monitor Accounts from a Private Network
When checking on your accounts, make sure you’re using a private server such as your password-protected home Wi-Fi. It’s more difficult for hackers to steal your personal information this way. In the case of a security breach, it’ll be easier to find the problem if you stick to one or two secured, private servers.
Shop on Trusted Websites
Do Not Open or Respond to Unknown Emails
If you receive an email from an unknown sender or with a strange subject line, delete it. If it’s important, they’ll contact you in other ways. Many hackers are using “spoof” emails to scam money and information out of people. It’s important to be aware that these emails are looking more and more legitimate; for instance, the name listed as the sender may match a name of someone you actually know. Take a moment to check the actual email address and see if it’s unfamiliar.
Leave Your Login Credentials in a Secure Spot
If you write down your usernames and passwords, make sure it’s in a secure place such as a hidden place in your bedroom or non-web-based application on your computer or phone. Try disguising it. Do not leave it in your purse or pocket. There are also apps now that help archive your passwords with extra security. Check out Dashlane, Keeper, or LastPass.
Find a Trustworthy Financial Advisor
To help guide and manage your overall financial picture, find a trustworthy financial advisor. This person will monitor and invest your money for optimal growth and protection. Part of their job is to protect your finances against security breaches. Make sure you look for a fiduciary—meaning they must legally put your best interest above their own.
What now? WE CAN HELP.
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- Bloomberg. “Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-10/working-past-70-americans-can-t-seem-to-retire
- Vanguard. “How America Saves 2019,” https://institutional.vanguard.com/iam/pdf/HAS2019.pdf Page 10.