How to Keep Your Financial Information Secure Online

We use our electronic devices for an increasing number of things, some of which are very personal. Fear of information being hacked, however, is an ever-increasing threat. Not too many years ago, Yahoo reported that 1 billion accounts had been hacked, and more recently, Equifax reported that hackers have managed to gain access to its company data. It meant that sensitive information relating to more than 143 million American consumers had been accessed. For day-to-day users of mobile technology, hacking and identity theft are a real danger. How can you stay safe, though? Below are some tips to help you.

Stick with Trusted Online Retailers

If you’re looking at various deals online and it seems too good to be true, trust your gut because it probably is! Only shop where there are secure payment systems; look for “SECURE” and “https” in the address of the site you’re visiting. You also need to look for the padlock icon in the bottom of your browser. Alternatively, shop with retailers that use payment processors such as PayPal or Google checkout.

Keep Your Network Secure

If you use a wireless network, either at home or at work, make sure it’s as secure as possible. It is easy for a hacker to gain access to your network if it is unsecured. A few minutes is all it will take, and they’ll be in and out with all your sensitive information. If you’re not sure how to lock your router, you need to read the manufacturers documentation. Doing this won’t affect the way that you use it, but it will stop anyone else from getting in. On the same line, don’t give the password for your router to anyone you don’t trust.

Only Use Secure Websites

It may be very tempting to store your sensitive information using applications such as Google Calendar, Facebook, and Backpack. However, always check that a website is secure. Online organizers and calendars do make life much easier, but be careful not to leave account numbers and passwords on them. When you’re completing your tax return, for example, Online Tax Return is a company you can trust to keep your information secure. For further proof of safety, its website address contains https and the padlock icon.

Password Security

How often do you use the same password for all your online accounts? Are they easy to guess, such as your date of birth, the name of your spouse or pet? A password is your first line of defense and sometimes your only one. Make sure it’s a strong one and change it regularly. Admittedly, it’s not very convenient to use different passwords and to keep changing them, but it’s better than someone guessing what they are, and it reduces the chances of unauthorized access to your accounts.  

The best way to keep your financial information secure is to monitor it regularly; once a week should be adequate. Also remember to change your password often, at least every three months. When accessing financial information, for example, when mobile banking, don’t do it using public Wi-Fi or hotspots. Wait until you get home and can use your secure, private home network.

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