Online fraud and identity theft always seem like a distant, almost fictitious possibility until they befall you. And they do more often and on a much larger financial scale than you might think. The money stolen through identity fraud in 2012 amounted to the staggering $21 billion, according to Javelin Strategy and Research and their “2013 Identity Theft Report.” And that’s far from the only startling statistic.
This is why protecting your online banking transactions should be a priority, especially if you carry them out often. In that spirit, My Payment Savvy has compiled a few effective ways to mitigate risks.
It may sound banal, but there’s a reason why this is stressed on all the time. A secure password is the easiest way to reinforce the protection of your online banking transactions.
Always mix things up, throwing upper and lower cases, numbers, and symbols in there. You should change your password every few months, and not use the same password for all online accounts because one mistake and/or hack can have sweeping effects.
Also, never fall for requests for identification information over emails.
Secure E-Commerce Websites
This might seem like common sense, but what isn’t is the way to know which e-commerce websites are secure. A dead giveaway that a website is not to be trusted is the absence of “https://” at the beginning of the URL. Be particularly wary of sites that lack the “s” at the end of https://.
Use a Third-Party Pay Service
Using a reliable third-party pay service like PayPal or My Payment Savvy is one of the best ways to get some peace of mind as that is their domain. It’s like using a highly capable middle-man with niche expertise to take care of all the logistics. Plus, such services also provide dispute resolution services.
Don’t Make it Easy for Hackers
Sometimes, as cliché, as it may sound, you have to think like a hacker, or at least think what would make their life easier in order to stay out of their reach.
This kind of security breaches is often the result of mere negligence. An easy, but important thing you can do is to always log out of merchant sites, banks, pay services etc. after you’re done, for the same reason you should never give your computer the green light to save your usernames and passwords for such sites – you’re just making hackers’ job easier.
A nice extra step is to give fake answers to the security questions of online sites, in the sense that it’s a nice precaution not to use personal information that can potentially be guessed or may have leaked.
Don’t underestimate hackers – they are some crafty individuals!
This may sound like a no-brainer, which is probably why so many people overlook this security fundamentally. Simply installing whichever anti-virus program won’t do. Even the most reputable names in the spyware game are in a constant race with hackers and their own software. You need to run virus scans regularly and make sure your programs are up-to-date.
Another nice security reinforcement is to use both an ad-blocking software program and a spyware detection program.
Personal Information Protection
This may come across as some conspiracy theory, but the less personal information you have online, the better. Anything you post online can and might be used against you. You’d be surprised how little of the series Mr Robot is made-up in that regard.
For example, posting your birth date or the ones of your children and other members of your family is an unnecessary risk, especially if those happen to be your go-to security questions on bank sites.
Make use of survey bypass tools to protect your information…
Unless you have a personal account, you should constantly and diligently keep track of both your Internet purchases and your bank statements and activity in order to be able to spot any discrepancies as fast as possible and report them straight away.
It’s also a good idea to get acquainted with your credit cards’ specific fraud and liability protection so you can exercise your rights to their full extent.
Only One Card
The more cards you use for online purchases, the bigger the risk. If you only stick to one card, even if you’re a victim of fraud, it’s the only card that’s compromised.
No Public Wi-Fi
Another common and easy-to-commit mistake is making bill payments and online purchases using public Wi-Fi, like the ones in cafes and airports. Those networks are much more vulnerable and have brought a lot of people some serious headaches.
Online fraud is far more widespread than you might think, and until you become a victim of one, you never really grasp the full scope of the dangers it poses. Even though you can never be completely safe, these simple steps can make a security breach much less likely.