Simple Ways to Promote Online Data Safety
Living in a world full of digital connectivity makes it much easier to access your finances, but it also makes it easier for your information to be stolen. Cyber crimes have risen as personal and sensitive information is increasingly stored online. Hackers and would-be thieves are developing more sophisticated ways of stealing your data, leading to financial and identity concerns.
Protecting Your Future
Keeping your financial information and other personal data safe from cybercriminals or a local thief protects your future. Many of the major purchases you make during your lifetime or the financial transactions for utilities, cellular service, and insurance rely on your credit score for favorable terms. A credit report is a snapshot of all the lending accounts attached to your social security number, and the score associated with the report identifies how much of a credit risk you may be. Bad financial habits show up on your credit report, with lenders reporting how much debt or credit you have with their company as well as what kind of payment history you have kept. The higher your credit score, the more favorable of a borrower you appear. You need strong credit to apply for a mortgage, finance a new car, or open up a utility account. If your financial data is compromised, the thieves can make unauthorized purchases and ruin the credit you have worked to build. This is why it is so important to protect your finances. Here are some simple ways to keep your data and information safe.
Invest in App Security Measures
Downloading apps to your tablet, computer, or mobile device can open up risks of malware or viruses. When you rely on certain apps to manage your financial data or you use the app for shopping, you need to know the level of security protocols that accompany each transaction. Most banks or credit card lenders have strong security systems in place, and consumers are often able to access these settings through the app itself or on the company’s website. If a company doesn’t have its security measures published, it could be a red flag. Whenever you are in doubt, don’t do it.
Use FDIC-insured Accounts
Consumers are turning to online bank accounts as these companies tend to present more competitive interest rates and fee-free debit transactions. However, companies offering special lock-in rates with a membership fee that needs to be paid up-front might be nothing more than scam artists. The FDIC is authorized and secure insurance that works with major financial institutions to protect your savings. An FDIC-insure account is backed by the government for up to $250,000 per account owner. If the bank experienced a significant financial crisis, you wouldn’t lose everything. The apps and online banking systems are also more secure, protecting the information you have chosen to share with the bank and your account data.
Use Caution With Hyperlinks
One of the more common scams that pirate information from unsuspecting consumers relies on email activity. A scammer will send an email that asks the receiver to open a hyperlink and enter their bank account number or other personal information. These scams are also known as phishing schemes, with the victim opening an email from what seems to be a legitimate sender. However, only after all the requested information is entered is the individual able to realize it was a scam. The Better Business Bureau suggests that receivers ignore emails that ask for personal information through hyperlinks or forwards and attachments that come from unknown senders.
Stay Away From Suspicious Websites
Poorly designed websites are easily spotted, when you look at the content, the graphics, and the number of pop-up windows that keep appearing. This could indicate the retailer may not be a legitimate entity and is only looking to make it rich. Many of the large credit companies provide fraud protection for a transaction of the nature, so never use a debit card with a small, lesser-known retailer online. It is also safer to use a payment system like PayPal more protection. Whenever you use your debit card online, a thief could potentially access your checking account if a hack is usefully made.
Avoid Phone Purchases
Use common sense and caution when making purchases by phone, as you can’t verify what is happening to the information. Beyond over-the-phone sales, be careful when making an online purchase that relied on an open or public network for transmission. Unsecured networks are prime opportunities for thieves to latch on your data and financial information.
Keep Your Credit Information Close
There are many fraudulent websites and email notifications that will request your social security number as a way to authenticate who you are. A real business generally never makes this request. Never share your social with another person or put it on the paperwork that is being transmitted through the mail. You shouldn’t authorize online use of your social security number either. You also need to make sure you protect any information or numbers associated with your children. It is common for pediatricians or wellness facilities to request this information on intake forms and patient files, but you are not obligated to share this information.
Develop Strong Passwords
It can get frustrating to try and remember all the different passwords you have for each retail website, social media account, or email platform. However, using the same password for all the accounts puts you at a greater risk for hacking and password theft. Many sites are now requiring more complex password arrangements in order to heighten security measures, but if there are no requirements, design a password that is long and difficult to figure out. Keep your mobile device password protected as well, since most phones contain a lot of information that someone could gain access to if your phone gets lost or misplaced. Never store your password information on your mobile device either. You can also download encryption software to keep transactions on your phone or computer more protected.
Taking these precautions will help guard your personal and financial information from those who want to exploit it. With the threat of cybercrime rising, you can never be too careful in protecting your data.