As you manage your money, it is important that you look for ways to protect your finances as well. You could be saving a lot in your account for retirement or even for emergency situations in the future. Then all of a sudden, you notice that all of the money you have been saving up for the last few years of your life are all gone.
This is one of the toughest challenges you will ever face in life. It is possible to try and recover what you lost but it will be a long and tough battle. This is one of those instances where prevention is a lot better than the cure. You might have heard about this phrase especially now that there is a global health crisis gripping the world. Strengthening your immune system and observing proper hygiene is the best preventive approach in staying healthy.
The same concept can be used when you want to protect your finances from thieves and hackers. This is important as MarketWatch shares that hackers are targeting retirement plans and even rewards programs. The main reason for this is that people rarely check on these types of accounts giving them enough time to steal your money.
Financial security is an important part of your whole journey simply because one attack has the ability to undo years of hard work. This is the reason why you need to pay close attention to how you use your money. This applies not only to online transactions you make but even when you are paying for a purchase in your favorite store.
Check your credit report regularly
One of the best ways to protect your finances is to check your credit report on a regular basis. Your report shows your financial activity and is a good start to look for inconsistencies in your finances. If anyone is stealing your hard-earned money or has already assumed your identity, there will be clues in your credit report.
First off is that you would start to notice that new lines of credit are being opened under your name. If you did not initiate this, this is already a sign that someone has stolen your identity. Thieves already have access to sensitive personal information like your name, billing address, and even your social security number.
It could cost you to regularly check your credit report but there is a way to get it for free. The FCRA allows you to have one free copy of your credit report from major bureaus once every 12 months. Between Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, you can have a copy every 4 months. That is a good way to stay on top of your credit report.
Go through your credit card statements thoroughly
One of the best ways to protect your finances from online thieves is to make sure you review your statements thoroughly. If you still receive a printed copy at home, be sure to open it and go through each item one by one. If you still keep receipts, compare the amounts and dates to make sure that you are only paying for the items you bought. You also need to do the same for online statements.
One reason why you need to look at the details of your credit card statement is that there are times you just look at the total amount. You have a ballpark figure of how much you have charged on your account and if it close enough, you then proceed to pay for it. It is a good habit to pay for the full amount but you also need to make sure that you are only paying for your purchases.
There are times when thieves would try to charge small amounts at first so it does not raise any alarms. Once those small amounts go through, they will begin to charge higher amounts on your card. Although you have excellent consumer protection when it comes to your credit card use, you still need to be vigilant with the charges on your card. This is important as Krebs on Security shares that potentially 30 million Wawa Inc customers were exposed to a nationwide store breach.
Be mindful of online transactions
To protect your finances also means to be very thorough with the way you proceed with online transactions. This covers all financial activities from purchasing from online stores, checking your bank account balances, making debt payments, or even when you visit various websites. Your online activity has a direct effect on your online security.
If you shop online, you need to make sure that you are purchasing from credible stores. They need to have secured websites that help give you an extra layer of protection. It also helps if you use only one type of card for online purchases so you can monitor the card activity a little easier. If you use multiple cards to shop online, it would be difficult to keep track of how much you have charged on your cards.
When you shop online, make sure you use a secure connection as well. This is because you might be logged into free access wifi when you are out in public. These connections are easier to get into and steal your information compared to your home wifi. At home, make sure you secure your internet connection starting with a password. It makes it harder to hack with that simple security layer.
Protect your finances by updating your gadgets regularly
Technology has made it a lot easier for people to manage their finances at the comfort of their gadgets. Using smartphones, tablets, or personal computers can give you access to your finances. You can do almost any financial transaction with technology. The same convenience is being exploited by thieves in trying to get a hold of your information.
Gadget manufacturers know about this predicament all too well. Hackers are trying to look for vulnerabilities in their system to gain access. This is something they want to avoid or risk losing the confidence of their consumers. Once this happens, they will see a dip in their sales and lose a big chunk of their clients just because their system was hacked.
This is the reason why manufacturers and software creators regularly evaluate and release updates or patches to help secure your computers and gadgets. As time is changing, security is getting more complex that you need to update your system on a regular basis. This helps you increase your protection from thieves trying to access your accounts.
Make sure you dispose of physical statements properly
There are instances when you feel a lot more comfortable when you receive an actual mail from your lender. This credit card statement shows you your card activity from the purchases you made complete with the amount and date. More importantly, it tells you how much you need to pay your lender whether in full or just the minimum. After you have paid your bill, you can choose to keep the statement for your own records or throw it away. When you choose to throw it away, make sure you shred or tear the document into pieces.
The reason for this is once a thief gets a hold of an intact statement, they now have a lot of personal information about you. It starts with your complete name, billing address, and even contact details. It also shows details about your credit card that only you should know about. They can then use these details to assume your identity and either make a purchase or open up a new line of credit without you knowing.
The same convenience that technology brings is also the reason why you need to protect your finances from online threats of hacking and identity theft. You need to make sure that your finances are in order and that you stay away from malicious and unsecured sites.