Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly tech savvy and use hi-tech ways to commit fraud.
It is important for people to take precautions so that their financial data is not compromised upon and their finances are secure. Let us look at some of the steps to protect oneself from identity theft, credit card fraud and online theft -
Protect your online profile – People conduct many financial transactions on the web. There are many social and professional websites with lot of information about people. Usernames and passwords and other information are therefore available online. People should logout after transactions are done. Login Ids and Passwords should be cleared. Many people set easy passwords such as their spouse's name or easy combinations like “12345” and “password”. These are high-risk passwords. Passwords should be changed regularly and should not be very obvious or very easy to decipher.
Check bank statements and credit card statements regularly – One should check financial statements regularly so that false transactions can be checked for and reported to the bank immediately.
Register for alerts and do not ignore messages from banks and credit card companies – It is important to register for alerts for transactions like credit card swipes and ATM withdrawals. One can immediately raise an alarm for suspicious activities.
Update your billing address and phone numbers – Are you aware of the address with the bank? Have you updated the latest phone number to the bank. Do you check the email address that you have given the bank? If not, please do so that you can check statements and alerts and be aware of what is happening to your account. It is better to keep a separate email address for correspondence with banks, insurance companies and for other financial matters so that it is not shared with too many people and does not appear on social media.
Have good digital habits – One should not share email addresses, mobile numbers, usernames and passwords with everyone but with just one trustworthy person like a parent or spouse. There are many login IDs, passwords, PIN numbers to remember and many of us end up storing it in word files,excel files or emails. It is very easy for hackers to get access to such insecure places. We can use password manager software like LastPass. It is important to install a good anti-virus software and update it regularly. We should click on suspicious links that promise great deals etc. Clicking on this links may lead to malicious software getting loaded on your device.
- One should check information such as last login on the netbanking site, check mails from banks regarding maintenance activity, downtime, keep a check on account transaction history and statements to be fully aware of the financial status.
- Old bank statements, papers with sensitive financial information should be shredded and discarded if not required.
- You should doubly scrutinize calls that promise to double your credit card points or promise you great financial offers as these could be to trick you to hand over sensitive information.
- You should not keep excess cash in the savings account. Apart from the emergency fund, you should use the cash to invest in different assets. This will reduce risk of stealing from your account, diversify your asset allocation and you can get investment returns.
Online transactions are very convenient but precautions while using the Internet for financial matters are a must. They take a little extra time from your busy schedule but can save you from grievances and monetary loss in the long-run.
In spite of precautions, if a person's account has been hacked into or unauthorized transactions have been conducted in your account or debit/credit cards, one should inform the bank or card issuer immediately. Cards should be cancelled if required and passwords should be changed immediately. There are also insurance policies to cover loss and misuse on credit cards and one can consider them.
It is important to take care of personal information and keep it secure else it can lead to grave problems.