17 Tips to Keep Your Finances Secure on The Internet
Thought this would be a good topic to keep front of mind these days. It seems there has been a major uptick in stolen identities these days. I feel like I’ve heard half a dozen clients in the past two months call saying their identities have been stolen. Have no fear as that is the topic du jour.
Now I will say that criminals are getting smarter, and it certainly is getting harder to stay a step ahead. That said, hopefully, the below will provide some good tips to best combat these jerks.
A good first step is to look into a credit monitoring service such as Lifelock. They have numerous monitoring systems that notify you any time an inquiry has been made on your credit. This is a helpful way to know what is happening with your credit and certainly if something out of the ordinary pops up.
The next thing you can consider is a total freeze on your credit. This is much more laborious but happens to be much more secure. Essentially, you have to call the 3 major credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) and ask them to put a freeze on your credit. This means nothing can happen without you unfreezing your credit. Now be forewarned, this means any time you apply for any sort of credit it likely is substantial time and headache to call and unfreeze your credit at 3 different places, etc.
Making sure your passwords online are secure is critical to protecting yourself. You want to make sure that A. your passwords are unique and virtually impossible to hack, and B. utilize two-factor authentication any time you can.
To help with securing your password and managing them I am a huge advocate, and recent convert, to password management software. LastPass and DropBox Password are two great ones I use. Essentially, you create an account and put the software on any secure device you use. The software helps create unique passwords for any site you go on and as long as you are logged into the tech it autofill’s any time you go to a site to log in. This helps both make sure your passwords are at the highest level of encryption and allows you to not have to remember 450 different passwords.
Another good rule of thumb is don’t access sensitive sites, like your bank account, if you aren’t on a secure non-public wifi connection. Hackers are notorious for preying on those who connect to non-secure wifi and then go check their private accounts.
Keep a Pulse-
Every morning I check my bank account and credit cards. This way I can get a sense of what is happening with my cash flow. This also has the dual benefit of additionally informing me if something seems askew. I’ve actually found issues before, and since I caught them right away, was able to stop them from causing any real issues.
At our firm, we not only go through training but also hire a firm to do surprise audits of our emails. They send out fake emails that attempt to fool us into clicking on some link. You don’t have to necessarily pay a company to do this, instead simply don’t click a link or open an attachment unless you are sure it is legit.
If unsure don’t do it or call the other party to confirm DO NOT EMAIL THEM AS THEY MAY HAVE BEEN HACKED. Also, on this topic a lot of times an email will come across from what seems to be a legitimate source, but if you click on the actual sender, it will reveal it is a hoax rather than who you think it is coming from.
Social media has consumed our world. A very critical thing to keep in mind is to keep personal and sensitive data off these platforms. Avoid these stupid polls that are being asked. Again, these hackers are very smart and clever. They have a way of collecting sensitive data from you without you actually knowing you are doing so. Rule of thumb, less is more!
If you are shopping online or searching a site that is asking for any sort of sensitive information, only do so if the search bar starts with HTTPS rather than HTTP. Essentially, the S means it is a known secure site verified by the search engines.
Folks simply put don’t ever use a public computer to input any personal information. If you want to search ESPN fine, if you want to log in literally any account please don’t. Next!
Cyber Security Insurance-
Another step you can take is to get cyber insurance. We have it at our firm, although candidly I don’t have it personally. That said they are generally pretty reasonably priced and can help reimburse if you are compromised.
Shred, Shred, Shred-
There are two forms of shredding. One you should be shredding documents that come in the mail with sensitive information (reminder we have huge bins in our office as a courtesy to our clients). The other form is digitally shredding. By this I mean to go into your email folders and regularly delete emails with personal information. Clear the deleted inbox as well. This helps protect you if you are hacked by a hacker digging through your online garbage can.
If you are emailing sensitive information please use encryption software. I know this is a best practice at our firm. Any time I personally send personal info I make sure to always send via encryption service.
Most everyone has cell phones that are smartphones these days. Few tips here that are obvious, but not always done. Make sure you have a secure password to login, oh and if yours is your date of birth (heard a curse word from 90% of you right there) maybe consider changing it. Also, make sure you are always updating to the most recent software update. Often times these come with critical security updates that help protect you.
Assuming you have a computer I suggest having some form of antivirus type of software installed. This can help monitor if anything shady is happening on your device and if so, attack it right then.
Clear Cache & Cookies-
A good practice is to regularly go to your search engine and clear your cache and cookies. This helps protect your information. Hackers have been known to hijack cookies, which give them access to previous browser sessions allowing them to steal your personal data.
Move off the grid-
The final way to protect yourself is to buy a cabin in the middle of Wyoming somewhere. Live off the land and go off the grid. Unless you plan to actually do this, please take some of the precautions above to prevent another phone call to my office!
Know we are here for you if something happens to give advice and protect all accounts here at Diversified. That said hackers are smart and people can be lazy. If you let your guard down once it can lead to a major headache that you would rather avoid.
Hope these tips were helpful and as always stay wealthy, healthy, and happy.
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