In this increasingly digital world, more and more of everyone’s information is stored online. While there’s no denying many of the conveniences that come with the digital world, it also presents new and additional security challenges. Today we’re going to look at 5 ways to ensure that your finances are fraud-free in 2020.
Don’t use the same password everywhere
It’s 2020, so hopefully, you already know the value of making sure that you are using unique and difficult to guess passwords everywhere you go online. Even though everyone SHOULD know this already, Forbes reported that there are over 23 MILLION people who are still using the password “123456”. Personally, I would have expected “password” to be #1 on a list of worst and most common passwords, but that came in at 4th with “only” 3.6 million usages. If you are using 123456, password, or any of their incredibly insecure password cousins, please do yourself a favor and change it as soon as possible.
As we create more and more different passwords, it becomes impossible to remember all of the passwords. Consider using a password manager program or use the password suggestion features that are included with many modern and popular web browsers.
Go paperless (or use a shredder)
Another change in this world where an increasing amount of commerce is done online is that more and more information is being sent through the mail. Your transactional information and packages are often coming through the mail and delivered by companies, and we have all heard the stories of package thieves. Another option to keep your finances fraud-free is to go paperless with as many of your accounts as possible.
For any bills or account information that still comes to your house, make sure that you get a shredder instead of just putting that information in your trash or recycling bins. A good rule of thumb is to shred anything that has your name or any personally identifiable information.
Make sure you monitor your transactions
Probably the most important thing you can do to keep your finances fraud-free is to make sure you are regularly monitoring your transactions. In addition to helping with your budget, Mint is a great tool for easily keeping track of your transactions. Simply connect all of your bank and credit card accounts and then regularly logon and take a minute or two to review your recent transactions. It’s not unreasonable to check your transactions daily, and I’d recommend making it part of your regular routine – no less often than 2 or 3 times a week. The sooner you can recognize and identify an unknown and possibly fraudulent transaction, the better.
If you do find an unknown or potentially fraudulent transaction, it’s important to know your protections. Most credit cards offer a $0 liability guarantee against fraudulent transactions, so if you find a suspicious transaction, immediately contact your bank or credit card company and follow their process.
Be careful where you click
Phishing attacks are also becoming more and more sophisticated as well, so you need to make sure to be vigilant in your email and online. Never click on a link or attachment that is unexpected. Even if it comes from someone you know, make sure to confirm with the sender that it is genuine before clicking on it.
You’ll also want to make sure to stay away from any websites that have personal information while you’re out and browsing on public wifi networks, like those found in schools, libraries, coffee shops or anywhere else that isn’t a home or work network.
If you do find your information compromised, then hopefully you’re monitoring your transactions so you’ll see any fraudulent transactions in a timely fashion and be able to take the appropriate precautions.
Be aware when using your credit cards
The last piece of advice to keep your finances fraud-free is to be careful and aware when you are using your credit cards. This advice holds for both online and in-person transactions. Online, make sure that you are on a secure network when making any type of transaction and ensure that you are actually on the website you think you are (and not a fake).
While offline and transacting business in the “real” world, make sure that you keep an eye on your credit card. Use a chip-based terminal when possible, and be aware of anything that seems out of the ordinary, especially in unfamiliar situations like ATMs, taxis, and restaurants – anywhere you’re giving your credit card to someone you’re not familiar with.
Hopefully, these tips will keep your finances fraud-free in 2020 and beyond!