Technology has made managing aspects of your life, particularly your finances, easier than ever. You can now take care of many of your daily responsibilities online, which saves you time and money. Of course, technology can work both ways—with ease of access comes vulnerability to your online identity—so you have to be more careful to protect your personal data. Hackers’ tactics have become incredibly sophisticated, resulting in a number of recent damaging attacks for consumers. The Equifax breach,1 for example, left 143 million Americans vulnerable to fraud. If you haven't done so already, take immediate steps to keep your personal information safe and secure.2
Beware of phishing schemes
Some phishing schemes are more obvious than others—you’ve probably received bogus "emails" from any number of well-known companies or financial institutions. Other phishers are more subtle. They send out emails that have recognizable logos alerting you to action on your account and requesting that you confirm your personal information. By doing so, you’re accidentally enabling access to your money and other assets. In a matter of minutes, you could have a zero balance and little chance of recovering your money.
Never offer up your personal information online unless you initiated the transaction. If you have concerns about any account, financial or otherwise, pick up the phone and dial direct. Remember, banks and other financial institutions do not ask you to send sensitive information online or out of the blue.
It’s often advised that your passwords should be long and include special characters, capital letters, and numbers. Nevertheless, you might be inclined to creating short, easy-to-remember passwords that won't slow your flow on the computer, or worse, use the same password on a dozen accounts. You then become a scam artist's dream.
Hackers with the right software can crack your easy passwords in seconds. To stay safe, you need to change your password regularly to one that's difficult for hackers to crack. You can find a number of secure password management programs that will allow you to log in easily but keep hackers out. You can also test the strength of your passwords at sites such as How Secure is My Password.3
Use secure networks
Make certain that your home WiFi is safe and secure with its own strong password. Then, use it to check your financial accounts at least once a week. Review your individual transactions for any suspicious activity and make certain that everything literally adds up. Change your passwords on these accounts every few months.
Do not search your bank accounts on unsecured WiFi networks. While it may be convenient to check your bank balance while you’re on the go, you’ll also be inviting hackers to break into your account when you do. Any connection that says it isn't secure is telling you that your information is at risk. Believe them.
While your online accounts might not be entirely hacker-proof, you can still make your personal and financial information difficult to acquire. Hackers don't want to spend much time on their victims, so if you throw up roadblocks, they'll look elsewhere for an easier target. Take the time to use complicated passwords and secure networks, and your chances of being hacked will be significantly reduced. Also, remain vigilant: never give sensitive, personal information online unless you initiate the transaction. When in doubt, call or visit your local financial institution.
The information mentioned in this article is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Each person’s situation is unique and may materially differ from the information provided herein. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant and/or legal counsel to address your specific needs before any financial or other commitments regarding the issues related to your situation are made. Popular Bank does not make any representations or warranties as to the content contained herein and disclaims any and all liability resulting from any use of or reliance on such content.