The world is now revolving online. You can pay bills, buy groceries and trade stocks – carry out just about any type of financial transaction you want – while lying on your favorite couch at home, using your laptop or smartphone. However, identity theft is also a real threat, and keeping your financial data private requires that you take a proactive stand in how you approach your own online security.
Whether you are someone who files your hard-copy bank statements and loan depot review information routinely or only carries out your transactions online, there are ways of minimizing the risk of your information landing in the wrong hands. Here are six ways of keeping your financial information as it should be – private.
Get a Shredder
If possible, you should always limit the amount of paper mail you receive in order to reduce the ways your financial information can be handled by the wrong people. If there is still some of your information that arrives through mail, it is best that you invest in a home shredder to securely destroy mail like credit card statements, once you have had a chance to review them. Also, shred any promotional credit applications as they can be used for trying to get your identity to access your personal information.
If you have recently lost or had your wallet stolen, consider freezing your credit report. Freezing restricts access to the credit report, so no one can open an account without having the required PIN. This makes it harder for accounts to be opened in your name fraudulently.
Watch Out for Phishing
Phishing is a technique used by Internet scammers to try and trick you into sharing your personal information through communications like texts and emails. The big problem is that such notifications are even likely to come from companies that you already have accounts with. The fraudsters impersonate such companies and send out emails, call you or text to get identification information that can help them gain access to your financial identity and accounts.
Smart Banking on Your Smartphone
Mobile banking apps are a lifesaver since they make banking easy and accessible on the go. However, be cautious and never use these apps while riding on public, open networks – unless you are using your own hotspot or your home’s secure system. Whenever you are using mobile banking apps, turn off Wi-Fi and make your transactions over wireless or 4G carriers with secure mobile encryption.
Use a Passphrase, Not a Password
Consider strengthening your passwords to ensure that your financial accounts are even more secure. Do not use the same password across different sites and use passwords with a combination of symbols, numbers and letters. Remember, hackers today are pretty smart, so if you use a word that exists in the dictionary, chances are that it will be cracked.
For bank accounts, instead of using passwords, create a meaningless word from the first letter in a sentence. For example, “I always like terrific Tuesday pizza offers,” becomes I@LTTp$. The passphrase is now more complicated by simply changing “always” to “@” and “offers” to “$.”
Don’t Use Private Information on Public Computers
When you are away from home and phone, ensure that there is no private information saved on a public computer. Ensure that you completely log out from all your accounts before leaving the cyber café or library. Plus, never choose to save information like passwords and usernames on such computers.
Identity theft has become so common that people are afraid of using their own devices for financial information or making purchases online. Do these things above to ensure that identity thieves do not take advantage of you by taking a proactive stance to protect yourself online. If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, contact the relevant authorities immediately.
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