Financial transactions in a digital world: balancing caution and convenience

Published November 10th, 2015 - 05:00 GMT

Many may claim to be tech-savvy, but when it comes to trusting technology they shy away mostly for security reasons. For example, they may think twice before depositing a cheque at an ATM, wondering if it is as secure as handing it to a bank teller.

Although they may be right about some of the risks involved in online transactions and automated systems, they may be missing out on the causes and scale of the risks. They also may be missing out on the convenience that many of these systems offers and that can help them better manage their money and time.

To be sure that you have the right balance between convenience and security, keep the following points in mind.

Who you’re dealing with

Security breaches that involved major global banks and retailers make people rightfully apprehensive. But even with these major breaches, your security may be at risk regardless to who you’re dealing — big or small. In fact, a bigger entity may be more prepared to mitigate the damage and compensate anyone who has been affected.

Still, it is your duty to check before you disclose your information online, make a phone payment, or agree to get in a business relationship with someone. Don’t just assume that the systems in place will protect your money and identity. A few due-diligence steps can help you avoid easy traps. For example, before you order something online, check user reviews of the seller. If you’re asked to provide your credit information over the phone, don’t do so unless you’ve initiated the call. If you feel any pressure from anyone to obtain your financial or personal information immediately, you need to end the conversation immediately.

Read bank communication

Whether you receive paper or email statements, you properly get all sorts of communication from the bank about security, fees, safety tips, etc. Read this communication not only to give yourself some peace of mind, but also to be aware of any changes that might impact your accounts or credit cards.

For example, if a bank decides that the best way to respond to suspicious activity is to freeze your account or card, this may catch up unguarded in a situation where you don’t have an alternative. Many institutions will give you some neat option to set your notifications and alerts. For example, you opt to receiving a text message every time you use your card, you may be the first to know when someone else uses it.

Be careful with your docs

Many cases of identity theft and fraud start with someone getting access to a computer or hold of valuable trash. Selecting strong passwords and making sure that you don’t log into your bank account on public computers are two easy, inexpensive ways to keep your financial safe. So are buying and installing an antivirus on your machine. These simple steps will ensure that you can use all the exciting features that your bank offers without worrying about the risks.

Finally, if you don’t file and store years of bank statements, get a shredder. Make it a habit to shred anything else that contains your personal or financial information. This can be copies of your identification cards or passport, job applications that include extensive background information, receipts that have full bank or credit card numbers, etc.

Instead of recycling these documents along with the regular trash, make sure that they don’t fall in the wrong hands. In addition, by going through the periodical shredding exercise, you probably will be able to decide which documents you’d like to archive for the long run.

Finally, be careful of scans. It is convenient to have scans of your identification or residency card, passport and other documents that you can send easily to others. These scans, however, are all that someone needs to maliciously use your name and credit. So be careful where you save them and to whom you send this sensitive information.

By Rania Oteify

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2019. All rights reserved.

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