The way we account for our finances has evolved over the last decade with trends such as digital banking and online shopping, which are now part of everyday life for most people. With most banking information being stored online, it is important to protect it. Whether you are traveling, or simply living day-to-day life, it’s important to know how to identify if your financial information has been compromised, and how to react.
Phil Pajor, Purdue Federal ISO, and Ellen Cass, Fraud Investigator, are experts when it comes to taking security precautions for online financial management in the digital age. Here are their tips.
With online transactions, the number one tip is to stay vigilant and aware. Even when things seem innocent, it’s important to think twice.
- Beware of opening emails from unknown sources.
- Don’t click links from people you do not know or in emails that you are not expecting.
- Go directly to the website instead of clicking the link, for example, Google UPS package delivery and enter the tracking number there instead of clinking the link in a notification email.
- Install an Anti-Virus on your computer, laptop, or phone.
- Perform updates on all of your devices and the apps on your phone.
Keep close tabs on your account balance and the location transactions are taking place. If something doesn’t look right, it isn’t right.
- To keep track of every transaction, use the app your financial institution offers.
- Setup alerts to track usage and balances.
- Alerts can be sent via text or email.
Using the same password for everything can make it easy for even an amateur to hack your account. Use passphrases instead of passwords. Passphrases are a series of words or a sentence that is long but easy to remember. Your passphrase should be as long as possible instead of overly complex. Use a different passphrase for every account.
- Use a password vault such as LastPass. That way your passwords can be varied and complex. A password vault stores all of your passwords in an encrypted secure manner using one long passphrase to unlock. Turn on 2 factor authentication to make it more secure. You can do this using an app on your smartphone such as LastPass or Google Authenticator.
- Use the notes section of your password vault to keep track of things like answers to your security questions. The answers you use should not be something that can be looked up on the internet. You can make it anything you want and track the answers in your vault.
Staying Financially Safe while Traveling
Notify your financial institution that you are traveling.
- With Purdue Federal online banking, you can enter the exact amount of days and the location you are traveling. This helps prevent your credit or debit cards from being suspended when you are on the move.
Use your data plan for mobile devices instead of using open Wi-Fi hotspots.
- It is much safer to use secured data than an unknown Wi-Fi or hotspot. These hotspots can be infiltrated by an unknown source.
Carry two credit cards from two different institutions.
Limit how much physical cash you carry.
Split up money and cards between all travelling members.
- One person should not have all the money. If a wallet were to be stolen, all that information would be gone in one shot.
- Sign up for a monitoring service.
- If someone opens a new account in your name, the service will monitor the credit bureaus and alert you. These services range from simple to high-end and usually come with a monthly fee.
Limit social media posts that scream, ‘I’m not home!’ This can be a big red flag telling people your house is empty.
- Turn off location sharing on all social media accounts and make sure the account is private.
- Avoid posting while traveling, wait until you return.
- Make sure someone is collecting all postal mail, lock your mailbox, or use a P.O. box. Place a mail hold for your address with the Post Office.
- Banking statements are a clear pathway for someone who is attempting to compromise your information. Keep them secure.
- Use electronic statements and avoid paper all together.
My Information Has Been Compromised - Now What?
Freeze your credit, a good idea before the compromise….
- Contact each credit bureau to freeze your credit. This can be done via phone or on their websites. DO NOT lose the PIN you setup when freezing your credit. This keeps people from opening additional accounts under your name. It’s a lot more difficult to open any accounts with your information when your credit is frozen.
Your credit card provider does monitor your account for fraud and may call or challenge what appears to be risky transactions.
Your financial institution may have identity theft prevention and recovery resources available.
Find more tips and tricks and instructions for freezing your credit: https://www.fsisac.com/sites/default/files/news/FSISAC_TipsforConsumers-WhatToDoPostBreach-FIN.pdf