We are in a day-and-age where checks can be deposited, money can be transferred and dues can be paid all via our smartphones – at this rate we’ll probably be able to deposit cash by the year 2020. But with new convenient banking capabilities comes new risk. Ask yourself this question: what would you do in the absolute worst case scenario of getting your identity stolen?
To ensure you err on the side of caution, I have three tips to help you keep what’s in your safe, safe.
- Be careful, almost too careful – Your Social Security Number and the Internet should have a relationship like sandals with socks: used as little as possible. Having your identity stolen can heavily damage your credit score – it’s costly and the path back to good credit is an uphill battle. Check your bank accounts and credit score frequently to ensure all the activity is yours and the second you see something out of norm, contact your bank.
- Be particular and precautious – Never share your passwords, credit card numbers or even leave your phone’s banking app open. When checking your e-mail, watch out for sneaky scams with similar colors, fonts and logos from your bank with fake links. Keep your computer and phone clean with up-to-date anti-virus software.
- Watch out for these common scams – Always keep your eyes on the cashier and the register - one of the biggest scams is done through fake terminals at stores or gas stations. If it feels off, pay with cash. Also, if you’re using a credit card at a retail store, be sure to watch the transactions that go through because hackers have been known to steal lists of cards – remember Target in 2013.
What to do if you suspect fraud – Make sure you check your credit score regularly. You can ask for a full report from the credit bureaus for free once a year. Use an app like mint.com or your bank of credit card app to review your purchases regularly to spot any unauthorized spending or fraud. Call your bank or credit card company immediately to report the fraud and then check your credit report in a few months to make sure it didn’t effect your perfect score!
Technological advances have made banking more secure, but they’ve also made it easier for scammers to tap into your personal information. The way you bank and handle your finances will change throughout the years, but in order to be safe you must stay one step ahead of the curve to beat scammers to the punch. Prevention is the best medicine, so they say, and although it’s oftentimes the simplest mistakes that catch us off guard, the best thing you can do is closely monitor the influx and out flux of money into your accounts.
David Lester, Managing Director, leads Brightworks’ digital financial services out of New York. Lester is a professional financial coach with over thirteen years of experience in finance, advertising and communications.
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