While the growth of online and mobile banking accounts has provided great convenience, it has also caused lots of theft. How much theft? A 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research found that 15.4 million people experienced identity theft that in turn led to losses totaling $16 billion. This is why it is so important to safeguard your personal data.
How Life Has Changed
We no longer need to leave our homes to tackle many routine errands. Trips to the bank are almost non-existent today. We can have groceries delivered to our door. We can have GrubHub bring a meal. We can order clothes, try them on and send them back if we don’t like them. We can buy and sell stocks and move money from one account to another. While all of this has made life much simpler, for every account you have established online, your data is being transmitted and stored across the internet. According to the Federal Reserve, 67% of the U.S. population is using a mobile banking product. Many have Direct Deposit offered through employers so their checks go straight into their bank account.
Where You Are Most Vulnerable
By far, the most dangerous place you can conduct online banking transactions is over a public Wi-Fi. If the public Wi-Fi is free to use, the risk jumps up exponentially. It is in these public areas that hackers and thieves are able to capture your data. If you can avoid using public Wi-Fi for any type of transaction, you should. Turn your Wi-Fi off and use your cellular carrier to complete the transaction.
Most banks and credit card companies are now offering two-factor authentication. If it is offered as an option, it is an option you should take advantage of. Two-factor authentication requires two forms of verification before a user can log into an account. In a typical two-factor authentication, a user logs into an account using a user name and password. Once that factor is completed, an email or text message is received with a temporary access code. This is the second factor. While you might feel this is too time consuming, it will take you less time to complete the process than it will take for a thief to steal your data.
More About Wi-Fi Networks
While public Wi-Fi networks at airports and public libraries are dangerous, you might be fooled into believing that a hotel network will be safer. They are not. You are probably well aware that the standard login protocol for your hotel room is your last name and room number. Thieves know this too. The place that you think is the safest is your home and the network you own. It should be. However, a quick check on your cell phone of available Wi-Fi networks will likely yield a neighborhood directory of Wi-Fi networks. If you assigned your Wi-Fi network a common password that you use on other accounts or devices and a hacker gets ahold of that password, you are likely doomed to a hack. Don’t use the same password on your Wi-Fi router as a password on any other account.
More About Passwords
Change your passwords frequently. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts. We know, it’s easier that way. But, think of this: If your password is leaked out in any manner, you can easily become a target. Let’s say that someone learns your login credentials for your Amazon account. Now, a hacker can simply start visiting bank sites like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase Bank etc. and try using those credentials to see if they work. Once they gain access to your account, they can move your money out of it. Consider using some of these symbols in your password – # $ % & * ! and @. Always use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid using your Social Security Number, home or work address numbers, date of birth, wedding anniversary date, phone numbers or other easily accessed information.