In the current digital age, managing finances comes with additional responsibilities and necessary precautions. Aside from managing our tangible assets and keeping tabs on our accounts, we have to be careful about protecting our information and making judicious decisions about what we decide to share online. Below are seven tips for managing your finances and keeping your online accounts secure. These are some of the best ways to keep your personal information safe from hackers and scammers who, if we’re not careful, can easily obtain our information and wreak havoc on our financial profiles.
- Maintain a Secure Password
Most websites requiring online accounts now demand more complex passwords from day-to-day users. Make sure to choose a password that seems almost arbitrary and not something that another person would easily guess based on your personal interests or after a first impression. Nowadays, most websites require a mix of characters, including capital letters, numbers, and punctuation symbols. When you create an account online, it’s also best not to autosave your passwords and to type the password each time that you log in. Though this may take more time in the long run, you ultimately are protecting yourself from unwanted activity appearing on your accounts.
- Be Careful on Social Media
Because of its ubiquity, social media has become a very easy forum for hackers and scammers to easily deceive unprepared individuals. Never befriend accounts from people who you simply do not know or whose identity seems far-fetched or coming from precarious sources. Many social media sites are also prone to posting links or inviting users to create accounts that promise financial rewards, debt relief, and other good fortunes. Blanketly consider these postings as too good to be true. This way, your private information will never be compromised.
- Do Not Trust Spam
Similar to social media postings, be very careful about unsolicited emails that appear in your spam folder. It’s very common to receive emails requesting donations or promising rewards of millions of dollars for responding with private information like your address, social security number, and bank account numbers. Do not be goaded into these emails as they can put you in a world of trouble including identity theft, account theft, and fraud.
- Shop Securely Online
Limit your shopping online to veritable retailers from recognizable brands and stores you trust. If you find a great deal for an expensive item on a third-party website that seems less than legitimate, it probably is. Do not compromise your financial security by registering for accounts or providing personal information for websites and online retailers that you cannot trust.
- Sign Out of Your Accounts
Whether you are the only user of your computer and digital devices or if you share with others under the same household, a good rule of thumb is to always log out of your accounts after you have finished working online. This is especially true if you log into your accounts on a public computer or on a wifi network outside of your home.
- Join a Credit and Account Monitoring Service
Credit monitoring services do more than offer you a summary of your credit score and your debt to income ratio. A credit-monitoring service can also provide an additional layer of security for your financial accounts, send you alerts regarding identity theft or unsolicited activity on your accounts, and offer you first-rate support should your accounts be compromised. For instance, TurboTax, a popular online tax-filing service, now offers credit monitoring that provides you with a monthly report of your credit status in addition to overlooking your financial accounts.
- Shred Financial Documents
When information comes in the mail or you print hard copies of your online accounts, be sure to shred and properly dispose of your mail and your files when they are no longer needed. Sometimes, mail invitations to credit cards or memberships to other financial groups contain codes linked to your personal information, including your name and address. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it could result in identity theft and account fraud. Because of these risks, it’s important to shred any financial documents completely before placing them in the trash or recycling bin. The last thing you need is to deal with a financial crisis because a discarded document fell into the wrong hands.
BMG Money encourages all of its users to make wise and secure decisions when managing financial transactions online. Feel free to contact us if you need further advice regarding account security, are looking to apply for a loan, or need help achieving a secure financial future. Our Loans for Feds program is #1 in loans for federal employees, and we work with many other employers to provide loans outside of the federal sector as well.