It's more than protecting your password: How to safeguard your financial data
If you’re doing business or shopping online, take the time to investigate the reliability of the sites you are using. (Shutterstock)
Protecting your financial and banking data may seem like an extensive exercise that requires a specialised background. But in reality small mistakes can cause trouble, and easy steps can protect your financial data.
The first step is to develop your overall awareness of the risks that are out there in daily life and online, so you can be cautious of what you’re disclosing and to whom. You also must be willing to educate yourself about the various risks that are associated with today’s easy access to personal information, and how these risks combined with any amount of financial information can undermine your financial security.
To do so, stay vigilant of any transactions that are done online, know the protections that your bank provides, and buy extra insurance just in case things don’t work out the way you expect. By no means, you should avoid the convenience today’s banking offers in terms of easy access on smartphones, internet, etc. You simply just need to learn how to use all of these features while keeping your security in mind.
Here are a few ideas that can help keep your financial data secure.
Basic online precautions
Taking small precautionary steps like installing an antivirus software, updating your computer, and so on keep your machine and data safe. If at any time you suspect that your machine is not fully clean, stop using your online banking and inform your bank to keep an eye out for any unusual transactions.
Passwords, security questions and other sensitive login information must also be taken seriously. These are all in your hands to control, so get them right, don’t share them with others, and spend some time to come with ones that can’t easily be guessed.
Be aware of where your credit and debit cards are. In particular, if you’re travelling make sure you keep them within your sight at all times. Be conscious of your surroundings when you’re using them in public especially if you’re entering a PIN code. Similarly, make sure that you don’t discard bank statements, receipts, credit card statements and similar documents that may contain account information without shredding them.
If you’re doing business or shopping online, take the time to investigate the reliability of the sites you are using. Some sites that may appear to be affiliated with big brands or retailers may not be legitimate. So before you enter your credit card information or call to place an order, search online to make sure that the website is real.
Stay informed of latest scams. Your bank probably will inform you of any suspicious activity, but you also must educate yourself to be able to avoid scammers. Generally, don’t provide any sensitive financial information in response to an unsolicited request. Calls and emails that request your PIN code, your address, ID number and so on are typically not legitimate. If you’re totally in doubt, ask the caller to give you their details and a callback number. Then you can call your bank and explore if the caller is associated with the bank.
Banks will almost never email to request any personal or account information. So you can safely disregard any emails that appear to be associated with your bank and request such information. Again, if you’re unsure, double check before responding. In many cases, ignoring the suspicious activity and seeking a clarification can give you the time and information you need to proceed safely.
By Rania Oteify