The beauty of online banking is that you can monitor your accounts almost in real time. This makes it much easier to catch any attempts at fraud, long before your paper statement arrives in the mail.
Here are some tips for shielding your money and protecting your online accounts.
- Create strong passwords and user IDs, change them frequently, and don’t use the same ones for all your accounts. These steps make it harder for criminals to steal the virtual keys to your accounts. Plus, this can limit the damage they can inflict if they do crack your code.
- Pay attention to security alerts that inform you about possible data breaches. If you suspect that your information might have been compromised, it’s a good idea to change your passwords and contact your bank with any questions or concerns.
- Keep your antivirus software up to date. The technology environment is constantly changing and antivirus software can quickly become obsolete. Be sure you update your software whenever prompted to keep your computer as safe as possible.
- Use different passwords for each of your accounts, including email, website logins, social media, etc. If one of your accounts gets hacked, your credentials are still safe across all of your other accounts.
- Consider using a password manager, which generates and stores long, complicated passwords for you. The basic services among password management companies are similar, though there are differences in pricing.
- Monitor your credit reports and credit score. Thieves can use your information to set up new credit cards in your name with a fake address. This means you’ll never receive bills, so your first clue that something is amiss may be a credit score left in ruins by unpaid bills or delinquent charges on your credit report. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Explore putting a lock or a freeze on your credit reports compiled by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Both a lock and a freeze block access to your credit reports, making it extremely difficult for anyone to open a credit card in your name.
- Don’t give out vital data like Social Security and bank account numbers to strangers calling on the phone claiming to be from your bank. If you think the call may be legitimate, ask for the person’s full name and a number to reach them later.
- Exercise caution when clicking on websites and emails. Fraudsters have become experts in forging the look of legitimate sites.
- Get account alerts. Ask your financial institutions if they provide account activity notifications and how to implement them. Alerts notify you about unusual activity on your account, such as transactions conducted in a foreign country or larger-than-usual purchases. Review your alerts immediately to protect against fraudulent activity.
- Be wary of accessing your account on computers that don’t belong to you, such as those at a library or your office. Computers can record pages viewed and keystrokes entered, among other possible security violations. Plus, anyone monitoring internet use on those computers will have access to your information. Granted, this will not be your experience on most computers, but be careful.
- Check your last login date. When you log on, your last login date is displayed on the Mascoma Bank welcome page. Always check this date to ensure someone else hasn’t used your account.
- Register your computer. Not only will this make logging on to your account quicker, it reduces the chance that the answers to your security questions will be compromised.
- Enroll in e-statements. Receive your statements electronically. Paper statements can divulge your financial information if stolen from your mailbox.
- Review account activity. Review your online accounts for any transactions you did not initiate. Early detection may prevent large losses.
- Shred or securely store your paper bank statements. If you do prefer to receive hard copies of your statements, be aware that these statements might include login information as well as account numbers that you want to keep private. You should shred these documents when you are done with them or store them in a secure place.