10 Ways to Protect Your Online Financial Information
Cybersecurity Strategies You Can Implement TodayKathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Wednesday, 21 July 2021
Living in the digital age certainly has its benefits. Things like online banking, automatic bill payment, and mobile wallet apps on our smartphones add ease and convenience to our lives. They also make our personal finances more accessible to us. Of course, having so much of our personal information on the internet also opens us up to scammers who try to take advantage of online consumer financial data.
Below, we'll discuss ten cybersecurity measures you can take to help keep your financial and personal information safe and secure.
1. Use Your Home Internet Connection for Online Banking
Life gets busy and it's tempting to access your mobile banking app from the airport or a coffee shop when you need to make a quick transfer or pay a bill. However, it's best to save any online banking for home when you can use your personal internet connection. Don't trust public Wi-Fi connections when accessing your personal accounts.
2. Always Enable Multifactor Authentication
Create multiple barriers for potential hackers by enabling multifactor authentication on your digital financial accounts. Many people choose not to use this tool because it creates an extra step each time you log in, but it is a critical step to protect your data. Companies offer these procedures and precautions for good reason, so always utilize them on your accounts.
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3. Try a Password Management Tool
We are all managing multiple logins on our computers and mobile devices and it's critical to avoid using the same password. Choose a different password for each login and then keep them in easy reach by using a password management tool, such as LastPass. These are usually encrypted apps that require a master password to unlock all your individual account passwords, and you can download many of them for free. They can be invaluable tools in helping ensure you're utilizing strong passwords on all your digital accounts and all of your devices.
4. Keep a Small Digital Footprint
If you want to keep your information secure, less is more. Reduce your digital footprint by entering one-time credit card numbers for purchases, rather than storing your card information with a company. This helps keep your exposure to a minimum during online transactions. If you're no longer using an account, remove as much personal information as you can and close it down.
5. Keep Your Devices Protected
Whether you're using a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other devices to access your financial and purchasing accounts, make sure you have antivirus software installed. Update your operating software when new versions are released and turn on firewalls when you have the option. Be careful about what you download and use passwords, fingerprints, or facial recognition to access each device.
6. Turn on 'Failed Login' Notifications
Cybersecurity experts say you should always sign up to get alerts of failed logins to your accounts. These notifications are like smoke detectors, alerting you to potential hacker activity. You can usually sign up to receive such alerts by email or text. If you see one and you know the login attempt was not you, change your password and keep an eye out for anything suspicious on your account.
7. Put a Lock on Your Credit Scores
While not every person will face identity theft, it's a real and present concern. If you contact all three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, you can ask them to put a "lock" on your credit score. If anyone attempts to open a new credit account in your name, you will be alerted.
8. Don't Share Your Access
Most credit cards, banks, and other financial institutions make it possible to have multiple logins for the same account. If you're sharing an account with a spouse, partner, or anyone else, set up separate logins for each of you. This ensures you each have the ability to control your own access, lessening the possibility of information falling into the wrong hands.
9. Take Advantage of Voice Authentication for Money Moves
Whenever possible, require voice authentication before money can be moved out of any of your accounts. Hackers can easily impersonate you through email or text, but it's much more difficult to fool voice authenticating software. Ask your banks and other institutions if they offer this service. If they don't, consider switching to a company that allows you to add this level of protection. It will ensure that funds are never moved out of your accounts without your express consent.
10. Contact Your Financial Institutions Directly
One of the most common moves scammers use is to pose as a representative of your financial institution. They do this through phone calls, emails, and text messages, and they try to trick you into divulging personal information. If you get a message asking for information about your account or mentioning a problem with your account, contact your financial institution directly rather than replying. Make sure you use the phone numbers or email addresses listed on the institution's websites - not contact information provided by the potential scammers.
What to Do if You Think You are a Victim
If you get a strange email or see an unusual purchase on your credit card, it's always best to err on the side of caution. While taking the steps above certainly helps to keep your digital information secure, scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of people. Contact your institution immediately and visit the Federal Trade Commission's reliable resource to help you navigate fraud and identity theft using easy-to-follow steps.
If you have any questions about the steps that we take at Flourish Wealth Management to keep your information secure, please give us a call. We're always happy to answer inquiries to help you maintain the security of your personal financial information.
About the Author
Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.