How to Protect Your Financial Data

by Justin on December 23, 2015

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These days, most of us would balk at opening an account with a bank that didn’t offer online services for tracking spending and such. And for many of us, it’s pretty common to shop online for everything from clothes to groceries. However, with identity theft such a rampant issue in our society, you really need to be careful to protect your information and keep it safe from would-be hackers. You should be constantly vigilant when it comes to protecting your financial data. Here are some tips:

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Vary Your Account Info

Although it would, of course, be easier to use one PIN, username, password, and security question for every account, this makes it easier for all of your accounts to be compromised. Instead, change things up so that each account has entirely unique details that are known to no one except yourself and your bank. And don’t save this information in easily-accessible places either (e.g. on a note in your cellphone). If you’re having a hard time remembering all your details, use a powerful password manager so that your account data is encrypted when not actively in use by you.

Be Suspicious

You should never blindly share your account details. When you’re shopping online, make sure you’re buying from legitimate companies that you trust to keep your information secure. And if you’re doing any banking online or over the phone, make sure you know and trust your bank’s protocol system—will they ask you to enter your PIN, answer some questions, or whatever else? If you encounter anything that seems even a little shady, it’s better to err on the side of caution. It goes without saying, but even if all you’re doing is using an ATM, make sure no one’s looking over your shoulder!

Be Cautious Using Public WiFi

One of the biggest hazards to your financial security is the incautious use of public WiFi. There are plenty of risks involved, so you’ll want to make sure you take steps such as turning off sharing so that hackers can neither access information stored on your computer nor load up your computer with malware. And you should never set your device to automatically connect to any open networks because these can sometimes be malicious hotspots that have been set up only for the purpose of allowing hackers to steal your information.

Safeguard Your Internet Connection

Any time you’re connected to the internet though, there’s the potential that you’re leaking more information than you’re aware of. When you access websites, your computer is sharing things called “cookies” with the site, which tell everything from how many times you’ve accessed that site to information about your usage of other sites. In fact, these can even contain things such as passwords and PIN numbers, which aren’t things you want to have spread willy-nilly around the internet. Using a VPN will create a cleaner connection between your computer and the site you’re accessing, making it less likely that your information will be seen by anyone except you and the site you visit and limiting the type of information that gets sent. You’re far less likely to have hackers looking over your shoulder if you use a strong VPN.

Although the convenience that comes along with online banking, online shopping, and other technological advances is wonderful, there’s no denying that it can put us at a lot of risk. If you’re not careful, you could find that your account details and finances are totally taken over, and regaining control and recouping losses can be a long and challenging project. Instead, make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself right from the start.

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