Gone are the times when it was acceptable to keep your savings close to you, usually hidden somewhere in the house so you would always keep an eye on it. Nowadays, we keep our money in the bank, but our bank accounts are pretty vulnerable considering all the hacks and breaches that keep happening every day. Still, there are some things we can do to protect our money from theft.
1. Check your banks liability policy
Banks usually have different liability policies when it comes to credit cards and debit cards. While with credit cards, you are limited to $50 loss in case of theft, a debit card carries much more risk. While using your credit card, a thief would be spending the banks money, not the money from your bank account. However, with the debit card, your loss can be immense if you don’t inform your bank of the loss of your card in the first two business days. So make sure to call your bank as soon you notice your card missing.
2. Reset your password regularly
First of all, you need to be careful and choose a strong password, especially when it comes to your bank account. You should make your password at least 12 characters long and mix different characters. The worst thing you can do is choose a common word for your password. You should make your password something that only makes sense to you. Moreover, you should have different passwords for different websites and never use the same one from somewhere else for your bank account. And, of course, reset your password every few months. Whenever you finish your banking session, make sure to sign off.
3. Protect your computer from viruses
Make sure to keep your computer free of viruses by keeping your anti-virus software up to date. Don’t forget to run regular scans of your computer to make sure nothing and no-one has broken into your system. The same goes for your browser which should also be up to date, otherwise it can attract malware. Another important thing is to avoid any kind of suspicious ads and pop-ups. Don’t click on anything that offers you free stuff because it’s always a scam and can fill your computer with viruses as well as steal your information.
4. Use account alerts
Most banks now offer to inform you about the changes in your bank account usually via text message or an e-mail. In most cases, it will just help you keep track of your expenses and your balance. But in the worst case scenario, it will let you know if anything out of the ordinary happens, i.e. if somebody besides you has used your account. That way you can react immediately and inform your bank of the breach. For the alerts to work properly, you need to keep your information in the bank updated, that is, inform your bank if you change your address, cell phone number or e-mail address.
5. Memorize your PIN and password
You have heard this a million times, but this is really the best way to protect your bank account. Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and password for your online banking access so that nobody but you can get a hold of that information. If you absolutely can’t memorize it and have to write it down, it would be the worst mistake to keep your PIN or password in your wallet. Imagine somebody stealing your wallet with your credit card and your PIN – you’d practically be telling them to steal your money.
6. Don’t link your accounts
Even though the option of linking your two accounts could seem convenient, it’s the worst thing in case of theft. We usually opt for linking our savings account and our checking account so that we could cover our checking shortages with our savings account. However, what happens if a thief manages to gain access to one of your accounts is that they will automatically have access to both of your accounts and you’d lose everything you have. You should also cancel overdraft, which will come in handy even if theft never happens to you. Live according to your budget, don’t spend more than you have. If somebody accesses your account, they will not only spend your money but get you into serious debt.
7. Shop carefully
If you’re shopping online, make sure you are giving your credit card information to reliable websites. Look for https in the URL of a website because the s means secure communications. Also, if you’re shopping online, try to use a credit card because it will give you more protection. Never use somebody else’s computer, or a shared computer for online purchases because the computers at hotels, or at work can have software designed to grab your passwords. Also, beware of unsecured Wi-Fi connections because they’ll make you an easy target for hackers.
8. Avoid paper trail
Just like you should always try to memorize any kind of password you get from the bank, you should also keep the print reports of your account to a minimum. You can inform your bank that you don’t want any kind of statements to be sent to you mail, and that you want to switch to electronic versions instead. The statements you receive in the mail could easily get stolen right from your mailbox, misplaced or thrown away. If you do prefer the old-fashioned way of receiving your bank statement, make sure to know when they are coming and to react immediately in case of any irregularities.