For most of us, our money has been hard-earned and it’s been satisfying to watch it grow over time. It’s well and good when we take positive steps to save and make more money. This helps us to reach our goals like buying a home; going on a well-deserved holiday; paying off our student loans; or funding a more comfortable retirement.
But in the midst of juggling our busy lives, it’s all too easy to overlook this important point: How to make sure that our financial information and our money are kept safe.
Take the following steps to safeguard your finances now.
1. Regularly Check Your Bank and Credit Card statements
To protect your finances, it is really important to examine your bank statements and credit card statements regularly. Do this at least every single month. This way, you’ll detect any unusual transactions or deductions. Contact your bank as soon as possible, if you spot any unusual activity relating to your accounts.
I always check my credit card statements against my saved receipts before paying the full amount on the due date (to avoid its high interest rate).
2. Look After All Your Financial Documents
Lock up all your financial documents in a safe or other secure place. For outdated financial documents, make sure that you shred all of it properly. Then dispose of the shredded financial documents using a secure bin, if you have one in your workplace. Doing this takes away the risk of people going through your trash to steal your personal and financial information.
3. How to Use an ATM Safely
Make sure that your PIN for ATMs is hard to guess. When using an ATM, always take the precaution of covering your keyboard while entering your PIN, to avoid it from being spotted by someone nearby. My family members make it a point to be on the lookout whenever one of us uses an ATM.
Be alert to any attachments over the slot that accepts your bank card. Criminals have been known to attach scanners over this slot to capture your card details. Check carefully for any hidden mini-cameras that can spy on your PIN as you enter it. You could be at risk of having your bank card pick-pocketed, which would allow the thieves to withdraw your cash using your PIN.
4. Protect RFID Cards from Scanners
If you have any RFID-enabled bank card, be sure to store them in an RFID blocking wallet. This will reduce the risk of information theft. A member of my family had his RFID scanned when it was supposedly safe in his wallet in his pocket, and he had his money stolen. This shows that thieves can quite easily use portable scanners to steal the information on your RFID-enabled bank cards.
5. Never Give Away Your Personal Information
Be very suspicious of any emails or phone calls that ask for any personal information, or that ask you to verify your personal information. These are sinister attempts to steal your information. Note that your bank will never ring to ask you to either give or verify personal information.
6. Don’t Publicize Certain Information
Many folks do not realize the risk of sharing seemingly innocuous information on places such as Facebook. We ourselves may have shared such information too, info like mother’s maiden name or pets’ names. Yet this information is often the answer to financial challenge questions. The risk is the illegal use of such information to access your online accounts or even to steal your identity.
7. Use Your Own Computer
Now, it’s usually safer to use your personal computer when doing banking transactions. Make sure you update your antivirus software and scan your computer for any malware, before you begin any financial transaction. Avoid using even your workplace computer, because you may not be the only user. So there is a risk that it could contain software that could capture your passwords.
8. Install and Always Use a Reputable Internet Security Suite
To secure your financial transactions online, start by installing a reputable internet security suite. It is wise to be protected by a reputable security software such as Bitdefender, as it safeguards your computer and smartphone, and plays a huge role in helping you to secure your online financial transactions.
9. Take Security Measures Before Doing Online Financial Transactions
Before you do any online banking or online shopping, make sure that you have updated your internet security software. Ensure that you have also just scanned your computer for any malware or other nasties. Only when your security software gives the “all clear” message, do you login to the websites of your bank or online retailer, using a secure browser.
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10. Use Only Secure Websites
Check that the website you are going to for financial transactions or purchases is a secure one. A secure website address has a data encryption icon next to its address. It also has the “https” right before its web address.
11. Access the Correct Legitimate Web Addresses
When accessing the websites of your banking or retailer, double check that you have accurately typed in the correct web address. Scammers have been known to create fake websites that look virtually identical to the legitimate websites. These fake websites have addresses that are very similar to the genuine addresses – making a little typo could expose you to the risk of being taken to a fake website, where your username, login code and hard-earned money would be quickly stolen.
12. Use Apps Securely
If you’re using a banking app on your smartphone or tablet, make sure that your device is password protected, and select the highest security setting for your app. Always update your internet security software and use it to scan your device for malware, before you use your app to do any banking.
13. Create Powerful Passwords and PINs
Create a unique long password for access to online banking or online shopping. Your password needs to be easy for you to remember, but at the same time, it should not be easy for others to guess.
Some examples of passwords to definitely avoid are:
-simple words such as “34567”, or “my password”.
A good way to create part of a password is to use an acronym for a random sentence that you’ve come up with. For instance, if your sentence is “May is the best time to go buy some green curry”, your password would be 7%mitbttbsgc249**@ when you combine this with numbers and symbols. A password like this is much stronger and harder to guess or crack.
Avoid using the same password for more than one login. If you don’t want to forget your passwords, you can write it down and lock it in your safe or another secure place.
You need to also change your passwords every few months to maintain a high level of security.
14. Be Careful with Free Software
If you’re downloading any software, it is important to be absolutely certain that the website is a reputable one. Be aware that downloaded software programs or files could contain spyware that can capture your pins and passwords. Do NOT open any emails if you do not know the sender. Such emails can introduce spyware or other malware into your computer.
Taking the above 14 steps will help you to ensure that your financial information remains private and your money remains secure.
This will also spare you the stress of becoming a victim of crime, and help you to reach your financial goals sooner.
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Do you have other safety tips? Share them in the comments below.