In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network received 1.4 million identity theft reports. This data indicates that even with the latest innovations in cybersecurity, many individuals are still vulnerable to fraudsters.
The unfortunate statistic above also suggests that even though security applications are helpful, you should still learn internet-savvy tactics to secure your online financial accounts.
One way to acquire effective online security practices is to follow expert advice on handling your finances. You may visit this page to read insightful advice from financial advisors on how you can better manage your funds.
This article offers various online habits you can adopt to secure your financial information online.
Continue reading to find out more ways you can be safe when transacting online.
How to Protect Your Financial Information Online
Developing a keen sense of what happens when you conduct financial transactions online is the foundational approach to protecting your accounts. This information can help you better understand how the following steps are crucial when guarding your sensitive data.
Here is a list of several strategies you can use to secure your online financial accounts:
Use your own device. Accessing your online financial account from your personal computer is generally safer.
Public computers may have installed software that keeps passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs). Identity thieves may use these applications to provide your information to others without your consent.
If you do use a public computer, ensure that you have deleted the "temporary internet files" or "cache.”
Similarly, you must clear your browsing history after you log off your account. Moreover, you need to regularly check to ensure that no one else has installed programs or attached devices to your computer without your permission.
Additionally, you may consult the help function on your operating system or browser to learn how to clear your information.
Create a strong PIN or password and keep it secret. Strong passwords and PINs typically contain a combination of numbers, letters, and, if possible, symbols.
Do not share your PINs and passwords with others. If possible, you should not even save these credentials on your computer.
You may jot down your passwords and PINs in your notebook and store them in a private and secure place.
For better security, you may change your credentials regularly and use various passwords and PINs for each account.
Do not respond to electronic messages asking for personal information. Legitimate businesses will not request you to provide or confirm sensitive information via email.
If your financial institution requires personal information from you or your transaction documents, contact the company using the information in your files.
Ignore emails, such as "phishing" emails, asking you to send your password or other personal data.
Secure your Social Security Number. Do not make your Social Security number (SSN) your PIN, password, or username. Also, ensure that your SSN is nowhere on your printed checks.
Suppose your SSN appears on your driver's license. In that case, you may ask your state's Department of Motor Vehicles if they can put in another number.
Store your Social Security card in a private and secure place. If possible, avoid bringing it with you.
Beware of downloading unverified files and applications. You risk installing malicious software programs on your device when downloading a file or a program from an unknown source.
Download applications only from sites you trust. On that note, be extra careful with free programs because they can carry hidden software such as spyware.
Do not load a program unless you know its function. Moreover, do not click through links in pop-up windows.
Furthermore, you may use anti-spyware programs to help protect you from information thieves.
You may also purchase identity (ID) theft protection services if you can afford them.
Consider signing up for such services that can provide oversight of your accounts.
Excellent identity theft protection services can manage your credit reports and notify you of suspicious activity. These services can also track the dark web for your information and check for public records in your name.
Lastly, when comparing various ID theft protection plans, look for the one with plenty of identity theft insurance.
What to Do if Your Financial Online Account Has Been Compromised?
If you think an identity thief has stolen your online financial information, immediately contact your financial managers and partner institutions, including credit card issuers, to alert them regarding the problem.
You must also notify the credit agencies to place a fraud alert on your file.
Moreover, you may ask the firm to check if you detect unapproved transactions from your financial account.
However, you must know that your firm may take some time to determine what happened. The company may also require your help identifying family members or friends who might log in to your account.
Furthermore, you must also update your account's username, password, and PIN while you wait.
1. Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2021
2. Keeping Your Account Secure: Tips for Protecting Your Financial Information