Safety first: Keeping your finances secure

There are many steps to avoiding scammers and protecting your personal information.

Just when you think you’ve mastered the art of avoiding online scammers, they up their game and create a new sophisticated way to steal personal information. With online scams becoming more difficult to detect, it’s important to stay vigilant when shopping, banking or paying bills online.

Are you being scammed online? How can you tell? And if so, how do you prevent identity theft? With the right precautions, you can confidently take steps to help safeguard your personal information and finances against scammers.

Passwords are the first line of defense.

Scammers are all about stealing your personal identifiable information (PII). This is any type of data, online or offline, which could be used to identify a specific individual. Think of your name, address, phone number, Social Security number, driver’s license number or even biometric data. Some scammers will combine data from multiple sources to build up a full picture of an individual.

Keeping your personal information safe goes a long way in preventing identity theft.

When it comes to online security, passwords top the list of essential online protection tools. Unfortunately, opting for common passwords like “password” or “123456” puts you at risk of online scams and identity theft. Ensuring they’re unique and complex can help strengthen online safety. Consider using a combination of letters, numbers, special characters and passphrases when setting a password. You can also use a trustworthy password manager to manage online accounts and ensure each account has a unique and secure password.

Make safety a top priority.

When banking online, the safety of your accounts and personal information should be your top priority. Depending on a website’s security protocol, you should be able to determine if it’s securely delivering your data.

Visible security measures such as padlock icons or https:// in the address bar are signs of an encrypted connection. Avoid sharing personal information with websites that don’t have this, or websites you’re not familiar with. You can research online reviews and get recommendations for trustworthy websites before entering your online banking information.

And remember, public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. You don’t want to conduct financial transactions on them. Even shopping on them might be risky. By taking the right steps, you can keep your online financial transactions as secure as possible.

Avoid smishing, phishing and ransomware.

Have you ever received a suspicious online message, maybe through an email or text message? You could be the victim of a smishing or phishing scam. These online scams are malicious attempts to steal personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers or online banking credentials.

Watch out for smishing text messages from unknown numbers asking you to click on a link and enter information. And phishing emails do a good job of impersonating well-known businesses. So, always be cautious when you’re asked to click on a link and especially vigilant if you’re asked to provide personal information.

Ransomware is another tactic used by cybercriminals in which they take over your device until you pay them a ransom. This can occur through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. It can also be caused by drive-by downloading — when you visit an infected website, then malware is downloaded and installed without your knowledge. Although both businesses and public organizations can be subject to ransomware, individuals also need to be on the lookout for online scams targeting them directly.

Manage your finances online.

Ultimately, managing your finances online can be a great way to save time and money. Most online banking options provide various benefits, including an easy way to view all your accounts in one spot, pay bills quickly and use tools for investing safely.

As with any online activity, there are risks that must be considered with internet banking. But it’s simpler to stay safe with the right precautions. Reputable organizations invest heavily in cybersecurity to protect customer data. By researching any new financial service providers, using secure websites, setting secure passwords and staying aware of common scams, you can help keep your personal information safe from scammers.

This page and the information contained herein is for educational purposes only. The information is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any product, service, or strategy to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional. Any links to other websites are included for your convenience only. Bread Financial does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for the accuracy or reliability of the information, made available through such sites.