Online transactions have become a standard everywhere. Nearly everyone makes online purchases, even if it’s just paying bills! With so much financial information used online, it’s crucial to prioritize your financial security. The Internet offers convenience and accessibility, but it also exposes us to a world of potential risks. Follow these online financial security tips and you can protect your sensitive information and reduce the likelihood of falling victim to cybercrime.
Strengthen Your Passwords
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance your online financial safety is by using strong passwords for each of your accounts. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. That could leave your accounts vulnerable if even one account is compromised!
Avoid easy passwords like your child’s first name and even the word “password.” Instead, create complex passwords that include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. With today’s apps and tools, you don’t need to commit those complex passwords to memory. Use a password manager to securely store and generate passwords for you!
Consider Enabling Two-Factor Authentications
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step, typically a unique code sent to your mobile device, when logging into your accounts. By enabling two-factor authentication, your accounts can remain safe even if someone manages to obtain your password.
Beware of Phishing Attempts
Phishing scams are designed to trick individuals into revealing their personal and financial information by posing as legitimate entities such as banks or credit unions. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or phone calls asking for your sensitive details, especially when these messages appear from entities claiming to be a financial institution or government entity like the IRS. Always verify the authenticity of requests by contacting the organization directly through official channels.
Secure Your Wi-Fi Network
Ensure your home Wi-Fi network is secure by setting a strong password and enabling encryption (such as WPA2). Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions, as they are often unsecured and leave your data vulnerable to interception by hackers. If you must use public Wi-Fi, consider using a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your connection. There are even VPN mobile apps you can download on your smartphone.
Regularly Update Your Browsers and Windows
Software updates often contain security patches that address vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. Keep your operating system, web browsers, and antivirus software up to date to protect yourself from the latest threats. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure you don’t miss critical security updates.
Be Mindful of Social Media Sharing
Think twice before sharing personal information on social media platforms, especially for those fun quizzes! Data-mining companies can gather details such as full legal name, date of birth, address, and other information about your family–increasing the risk of identity theft. Adjust your privacy settings to limit access to your personal information and be cautious of accepting friend requests or following unfamiliar accounts.
Monitor Your Accounts
Stay vigilant by regularly reviewing your financial statements, bank accounts, and credit card transactions. Promptly report any suspicious or unauthorized activity to your financial institution. Monitoring your accounts frequently allows you to identify and address potential issues before they escalate.
Taking proactive steps to secure your financial information online is far more effective than dealing with the aftermath of an identity theft or other issue. Use basic caution when you’re making purchases online, monitor your financial accounts and you should be okay. Another option for United Financial members is to enroll in ID Protect, a comprehensive identity theft resolution service that members can enroll in for as low as $1.99 a month! Learn more about ID Protect here.