There's no question that the Internet makes life easier in many ways. Shopping, communicating and storing information are just a few of the ways we all use the web. But, it also comes with risks.
To keep your financial information safe online, follow these tips:
Use a Secure Connection and Strong Passwords
If you're an online shopper, know the risks. Online purchases send your credit card or bank account information over the Internet. Hackers can tap into unsecured Wi-Fi connections at hotspots to capture that information. Potential hotspots are coffee shops, airports, and other public facilities. If you're using a wireless connection to shop, be sure that it requires a password or WEP key.
Websites with extra security protections have https:// instead of http:// on their site.
Using strong passwords on all your online accounts is also an essential protection. Do not use your name, birthday or pet's name. This information is easy to find, especially if you post it on social media. Check SkyHigh's 20 Most Common Passwords. If your passwords made the list, change them immediately.
Monitor Your Credit Report
What aspects of life can your credit score affect? Interest rates on large purchases, obtaining loans, and even renting an apartment.
Check your credit report three times per year. Once with each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can do so for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
Watch for unauthorized accounts, loans or purchases in your name. They will damage your credit and signal that you may be a victim of identity theft.
If you find inaccuracies in your report, dispute those errors. Contact the credit bureau online, by mail or over the phone. Their contact information will be on the report itself.
If you hear about a data breach that might affect your account, be proactive! Change any related passwords. Especially if you use the same password on multiple accounts. You should avoid using the same password more than once anyway.
Suspicious charges on your credit card or transfers from your banking account are a red flag. If you see this, contact your bank right away and notify them of the issue. They may put a freeze on the account. This prevents further fraud and keeps the criminals from completely emptying your account.
Enroll in online banking and/or mobile banking. Then, you can always be on the watch for fraudulent activity on your account. There are also apps like Mobimoney, that allow you to control how and where your debit card is used. Setting up these protections will keep you and your information in a safer place.
Peoples State Bank, Member FDIC