The following 10 online security tips can help you protect yourself and your money.
- Use strong passwords for all your accounts. A strong password (one that is not easily guessed by a human or computer) will have eight or more characters, including letters, numbers and symbols. Make sure to use different user IDs and passwords for your financial accounts and for any other sites you use online.
- Don't use any part of your social security number (or any other sensitive info, like a credit card number) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN). If someone gains access to this information, it will be among the first things they use to try to get into your account.
- Don't respond to emails that claim to be from your bank (or any other company) requesting your account details. No bank is ever likely to approach you this way to ask for personal information.
- Be wary of email attachments and free software from unknown sources; you could end up exposing your computer (and the information on it) to online fraud and theft.
- Be mindful of how much personal information you share on social networking sites. The more you post about yourself, the easier it might be for someone to use the information you post to access your accounts, steal your identity and more. Maximizing your privacy settings on social networking sites can also help protect your personal information.
- Be careful about what (and where) you click online. Look for security-enabled Web addresses that start with "https://." These sites take extra measures to help secure your information. Keep in mind that links you receive in emails or in messages on social networking sites can be harmful or fraudulent, even if they appear to come from friends. Requests for personal information or a call for immediate action are almost always a scam. If you suspect the link might give you a virus or steal personal data, don't click on it. Talk to the sender directly and make sure it came from them.
- Secure your smartphone with a screen lock. Many mobile devices give you the option of locking your screen with a password, helping you keep the data on your smartphone secure.
- Keep sensitive personal information and bank account numbers/passwords off your phone. Some banks offer secure mobile access without having to expose your account information or passwords.
- Keep your computer operating system, your Web browser and your mobile device software up to date with the latest security patches. For mobile devices, this may require synching with your computer. Also, be sure to use anti-virus/anti-spyware software. This software helps find and remove spyware and viruses, which can steal information.
By following the above online security tips, you can help protect your personal information and help prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. If you suspect information related to your bank account has been compromised, contact your bank immediately for assistance addressing the issue.