Defending your finances is harder than ever before in this digital age. For today’s Finance Friday, Jennifer shares some strategies to help keep your money safe. Don’t miss her unhackable password tip!
Defending Your Finances
by Jennifer Wake
In the mail the other day I received my “new” credit card because I had used my old one at Target. Then someone else used my credit card at Best Buy to try to buy three–yes three–large screen televisions and two computers. My credit card company called me to ask if I was making these purchases. Thankfully, they canceled my card and I did not have to pay for this fraud. But when I received my new card I had to update any website that had stored the “old” card information. Also, all monthly recurring charges had to be changed. As I did this, I realized it would be a good time to change all my passwords.
Even in biblical times King Solomon wrote about protecting money.
“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.”
God wants us to be wise about protecting our finances.
Changing your passwords is required by the military usually every 60-90 days on different websites or systems. You may consider this a hassle. It is hard having to think up a new password, which is different from the last ten. However, this is an important habit to develop. Changing your password every six months to a year is critical to your on-line security. Security experts say passwords should be longer than ten characters with both upper and lower case letters, two numbers, and two special symbols. Experts have also warned us not to use properly spelled words in our passwords. Following all these rules has become challenging.
Some expert ideas on defending yourself from cyber attack are:
- Use the first letter of a line from a song. Change two of the letters into symbols and add two numbers in the middle. You can use a line from a song or a poem or saying. Just remember it has to be something you remember so do not use a line that is from the internet. An example is this line from the song What does a Fox Say?: “Dog goes woof, cat goes meow, bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak.”
Your password could look like this: Dgw2!CgmBg3&Mg8
You are using upper and lower case, two symbols, three numbers and it is 15 characters long.
- Record your passwords in a secure place. Never leave them lying around. People have left their notebooks with their passwords lying around where visitors to their home or desk just walk off with them.
- If you record them on your computer use a password protected program to secure those website passwords. Along with the passwords record account numbers and contact numbers in case the cards are stolen. You can also copy the front and back of cards to make sure you have the correct information.
- Protect your computer with a proper firewall. Make sure you use the same diligence with your smartphones or other portable electronic devices. Protect those devices with security software and good passwords. Don’t leave your device unlocked just so you don’t have to unlock it for someone to play a game. Make sure you log out of any financial apps when you are not using them. Yes, it is easier to have your device store the passwords, but it is not safe.
- When you receive a new credit card, make sure to sign and activate it. Write “ask for identification” as your signature on the signature line. This should encourage the person doing the transaction to ask you (or anyone posing as you) for identification.
- Do not use apps that are not downloaded from a trusted source. Apps can contain keystroke-logging malware that can read information on your smartphone and any device you use with your smartphone.
- When in public, if you are not using your Bluetooth, turn it off. Having your phone pair with your vehicle may be convenient, but it allows hackers a way onto your phone.
There are hundreds of other ways to remain safe in today’s technology-driven society.
Some other basic ways to remain safe are:
- Do not give out personal information over the phone to anyone who calls you.
- Shred all paperwork that has account numbers or social security numbers.
- Do not leave paperwork with account numbers lying around. Secure them.
- Add your name to the “Do Not Call” Registry and remove yourself from many junk mailings at www.dmachoice.org
- To remove all those magazines from your mailbox send an email to: email@example.com
- You can prevent your name and address from being sold by the credit-reporting agencies to other businesses by calling 888-5OPOUT (888-567-8688)
Defending your finances is very important in today’s technology-based life.
Even if you are diligent about protecting your information, you can become a victim of identity theft. If you are a victim there are several things you need to do.
- -Place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report with each of the credit bureaus.
- -Report the crime to local authorities.
- -Close any affected accounts and contact all creditors both by phone and in writing to alert them to your problems.
- -Contact www.consumerdebit.com to make sure no bank accounts have been opened in your name.
Remember it is always important to defend your finances.
For more information on cyber security you can go to www.consumerfinance.gov or read 50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age: New Financial Threats You Need to Know and How to Avoid Them by Steve Weisman.
If you or someone you know is caring for an aging loved one, don’t miss Jennifer’s Finance Friday article from last month: Financial Advice for Caregivers