Cybersecurity Measures are Vital for your Personal Finances

March 8, 2018

Cybersecurity is becoming more important in the world of personal finance.  In fact, so important that securities regulators have been cracking down on investment companies of all sizes to ensure that client data and private information is secure and protected from hackers. Despite all of this scrutiny, hackers still manage to get through banks and financial institution systems.  (Remember the Equifax hack last year?)  So it’s vitally important to protect their finances from cyber-attacks.  Here are some tips and strategies.

1) Passwords – Obviously an important area.  Don’t be lazy with selection of your passwords.    Be creative with your passwords. Don’t use your name or family members’ names, and no birthdays.  Most cyber-experts recommend using both upper and low case letters, random and multiple numbers, and include symbols, such as ‘&’, ‘@’, ‘$’.  Some financial institutions can even provide you with a device that changes the last several numbers of your password each time you access your account.  (Our client account access passwords are over 15 characters long!).  Change your passwords every 6-8 months for all your accounts.

2) Consider implementing a “two-step” verification for your bank and investment accounts.  This strategy often requires a first-step user name and password, then a code sent by the institution to your mobile phone or other device to enter for the second step of access.

3) Don’t store your passwords on your browser.

4) Try to not let your credit cards get out of sight when you use them, even in restaurants.  This can help prevent dishonest workers from copying the information on your credit cards to use later.  Also, set up a notification process with card issuers to notify you by email or text when they detect unusual activity.

5) Store and carry your credit cards in a metal casing to prevent sophisticated data thieves from copying your card info using scanning devices.

6) Avoid checking your bank, credit, investment and other accounts via public Wifi, such as in café’s, restaurants or other public places.  Data thieves can often copy your access info while on the same Wifi system.

7) Update your computer with anti-virus software regularly and always install updates when notified.  Be sure to back up your data onto a secure storage system.  Consider installing a firewall on your home WiF to prevent hacking of your home computer.  Scan your computers for viruses regularly.

8) Be sure to use personal passwords to lock your smartphone and other devices.  If these are lost or stolen, your info won’t be as easy to access.

9) Finally, lock your credit reports with the three major credit agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Doing so may not prevent hacks of your current accounts, but it could prevent a thief from opening a new credit account in your name without your knowledge and ruining your credit status.

The extra measures we all should take to protect our finances are unfortunate, but critical in this new reality of cyber-data and electronic information storage.  It may be a hassle to continually have to update and monitor your cybersecurity measures, but speak with someone whose information has been hacked – it’s worth it.

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