More than 5 million Americans fall victim to cybercriminals every year, with annual losses topping $28 billion (according to research firm Comparitech). Cybercrimes — including hacking, phishing, and malware — aim to access your sensitive personal financial information in order to steal money from you or in your name.
Cybercrime is always a threat in this information age, but there are also some simple ways to keep your information and your money safe. With the tips below, you can protect yourself from online criminals.
Just because an email seems to be from a source you know, doesn’t mean it’s the real thing. When you receive an email that looks like it’s from your bank, credit card company, or favorite online retailer, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, start a new session on that company’s website. Scammers try to trick you with phony email links, so you’ll type your login information into their fake page, giving them access to your real accounts. If you have doubts about the true source of an email, you can always call the company directly to make sure it’s real.
Protect Your Computer
Install reliable antivirus and anti-malware software on your home computer and be sure to update that software as new threats arise. Run scans regularly to detect any spyware or malware that may be lurking in the background to capture your personal financial information.
Secure Your Mobile Devices
Your smartphone or tablet come with strong protections, but their portability also makes them vulnerable. Never enter your personal information when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network, since hackers may be watching. Don’t download mobile apps unless you trust the source. Be sure to password-protect your devices just in case they get lost or stolen. You don’t want a stranger getting access to your financial accounts.
Only enter your personal information on a website if you know it’s secure. How do you know if it’s a secure site? The web address may start with “https” instead of the usual “http,” or you may see a little lock symbol at the beginning of the address bar. If you don’t see those security signs, your information may be vulnerable to theft.
Beware of Callers
No reputable financial organization will ever ask you for your password or other personal information over the telephone. If someone who claims to work for your bank or credit card company asks for that information, hang up on them. You can then look up the company’s real number and call them to verify. They’ll want to know if someone has been impersonating them on the phone! The same goes for email — don’t trust a message asking you to send personal information electronically.
Strengthen Your Passwords
It’s tempting to use one memorable password for all your online accounts, but that leaves all your accounts vulnerable if one of the companies experiences a breach. Instead, choose strong passwords for each account and change them often. You may need to use a program or browser extension to create and remember many different passwords for you.
Watch Your Accounts
Most financial companies have fraud-detection procedures in place, but that shouldn’t stop you from monitoring your accounts personally. Keep an eye out for unusual transactions, or ones you don’t remember making. Get in touch with the company as soon as you see anything unusual. The faster you catch the problem, the easier it is to fix.
At BayCoast Bank, we work hard to keep your personal financial information safe and secure.
Please contact us whenever you have concerns or questions, and we’ll work with you to resolve your issue.
You can also view our resources page online, to get helpful information on cyber security, internet and email security, tips to prevent identity theft, and more.