Phishing, hacking, identity theft, data breach, and network intrusions. Cybercrimes are all over the news and everyone can fall victim.
It doesn’t mean that we should refrain from using online banking, bill payment facilities or stop shopping online. The best thing to do is to educate ourselves on how to protect our financial information online and even offline.
Here are some safeguards to help people keep their financial data secured.
Shred financial documents
How do you keep your bank statements, bills and statement of accounts? If you just throw them away without shredding them, someone might use it and you become easy prey of identity theft. This is called dumpster diving. That’s why it is recommended to apply for paperless electronic statements.
Check your wallet
How many debit cards, credit cards, and IDs do you bring? Better not take them with you all the time. What if it gets lost or stolen? Keep those IDs and cards you rarely used in a safe place.
When using debit cards, do you know that it is safer to just sign instead of entering your PIN on terminals? Ask the cashiers if they can process your debit transaction as a credit card transaction.
Shop on secured sites
Don’t just enter sensitive information on any site such as credit or debit card information. You have to check whether the website is legit. The most common and simplest way to check is to look for “https” in the address as well as the padlock icon. It means that they have SSL or Secure Sockets Layer Certificate which establishes a secure browser connection. You may also check the address bar URL and examine if there’s any grammatical error, misspelled word or extra character.
Create a strong password
The best passwords include a combination of lower and upper-case letters, numbers, symbols or special characters.
If possible, avoid writing them down because someone might see and take advantage of it but if you really can’t memorize them, try downloading paid and secured applications to manage your passwords. In case you have decided to write them down on a notebook, make sure that it is kept properly.
Have you heard of passphrases? This is another option. Passphrases is a series of random words or sentences. It is easier to remember but still difficult to hack.
Do not use the same password for more than one account. Once the hacker got one right, all other accounts will be compromised.
Make it a habit to change your passwords regularly. When withdrawing on an ATM, be subtle every time you press your pin number. If possible, look around and cover your pin.
Enable this on all your financial applications. This is a security process wherein upon entering your username and password, an auto-generated message will be sent to your mobile phone for a one- time pin (OTP) confirmation. This makes it harder to hack your account since they don’t have access to your mobile phone. Do not share your username, password or OTP with anyone.
Don’t answer unsolicited calls and emails
Many were already deceived by this strategy. Don’t forget that banks and credit card companies will never ask for your username and password via email. First to check is the sender’s email address, does it look legit? Financial organizations have their own corporate emails so if you see any Gmail account asking for verification, most likely, it’s a phishing/ fake email. Check the spelling, especially those with special characters.
Do not click on any email or SMS link supposedly sent by financial companies without verifying.
If someone calls you asking for your financial information in exchange for rewards, hang up.
Check your bank activities online regularly
Make sure you monitor your bank history. Are there suspicious transactions? How much was your previous balance? Report immediately if there’s any unusual activity.
Keep an eye out for small transactions. Many use this strategy because this more likely gets unnoticed. Remember, those small amounts when accumulated make a large amount.
Protect your personal devices
If possible, when accessing bank accounts, use only your personal devices or computers. Don’t leave your browser open after logging in to your bank accounts.
Install anti-malware software. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware and more. Conduct periodic scans and run a reliable anti-virus program.
For your mobile devices, consciously check app privacy settings. Be careful of what you might be sharing as a result of downloading the app.
Caution and presence of mind should be observed. Of course, we don’t want our hard-earned money gone in an instant, so let’s take data security seriously. Learn to protect your business.
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