It seems like a fact of life in the 21st century is data breaches.
- Not long ago, we awoke to the news that the Wells Fargo scandal resulted in more than 5000 employees fired over unauthorized account openings.
- More recently, we heard that the credit giant Equifax was hacked, resulting in the files of 143million Americans being compromised.
- And even those pale in comparison to the three billion Yahoo files that were invaded.
Clearly, it’s down to each one of us these days to protect our own information, which means routine diligence is in order.
Here are five measures to take that are beyond simple but can be extremely effective if you make a practice of doing them:
1. Check your financial accounts on a regular basis
This should go without saying. The task is to make it as much of your daily preparations as brushing your teeth. It’s so easy to become complacent and let this essential task slide.
So just keep reminding yourself that you don’t want to be like the dudes in the red shirts who stand next to Captain Kirk.
There are very few reasons not to bank online, so get the apps for each financial account — and even an aggregator like Prism, Mint, or Personal Capital — set alert notifications for any action you’d like to monitor, and still check your accounts on a regular basis.
2. Use state-of-the-art password tech to your advantage
Let’s be real, here.
You’re on a site dedicated to the Dot Com lifestyle. That means you either have or are working to have significant assets to protect, so you must take a hard look at deploying a master password.
Once you get yourself up to speed and put all of your sensitive accounts under its cover, you’ve simplified your life by only needing one hard-to-hack password. Villains can try to crack it, but it’s not gonna happen.
All that remains is to remember that sending personal data via text, e-mail, or on any other digital platform is not smart.
3. Scrutinize e-mail addresses and URLs before responding
So many phishing expeditions can be cut short by double-checking to verify who’s really asking you to re-enter your login details to confirm your bank account.
For example, does this look like an address Wells Fargo would use to contact you:
If you see this, hit the phishing option in your e-mail provider and be done with it.
Be just as diligent if a pop-up appears advising you upgrade, whether it’s your browser or another program that you may be running. If the URL is anything but simple, close the window.
4. Only make online purchases from a secured site
The http acronym we all know so well stands for hyper text transfer protocol.
This is an application used to connect the software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics — which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method — between servers and browsers.
Only make financial transactions involving sites that are designated a https:
Here’s what these symbols look like in one of our online portfolio’s stores:
5. Check your status with all the credit agencies
You’re well aware of the so-called Big Three credit monitors — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — and it’s important to refer to them on a regular basis.
Do know that these agencies have changed the method they use to determine your credit score.
Many credit card services include a free option to check your credit score any time you wish.
There’s also the website annualcreditreport.com that allows you to order a free copy of your credit report from each of the Big Three once a year.
Space them out, and that will give you one free check every four months.
If there are any accounts you don’t recognize, especially if they’re delinquent or show other negative activity, you’ll want to get in touch with the creditor to find out more.
There are also two agencies that provide bank credit reports.
They have a slightly different function than the Big Three in that they tend to record mostly negative activity, but their purpose is the same.
If someone opens an account in your name and lets it become delinquent, these two agencies should have a record of it.