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How to Protect Your Financial Information Online

In today’s world of mobile banking and online purchases, knowing how to protect and secure your financial and personal information is vital. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, credit card data theft has increased by 50% just between 2005 and 2010. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure the safety of your information.

  1. Use strong passwords. The most important step you can take is to simply create and protect strong passwords that include uppercase, lowercase, numbers and/or symbols. It’s also important not to use a single password for all of your accounts and to change them regularly. If you write them down, be sure to keep the list in a secure place in your home. This may seem like a lot of maintenance, but in the long run it’s worth it to keep your personal information protected.
  2. Use secure wireless. If you’re sending personal information, like a social security or credit card number, while using a wireless connection, first check to make sure you are on a secure network. Public places like coffee shops and airports use public Wi-Fi which makes any information sent over it susceptible to snooping or theft. Using a secure network ensures that your information is protected from hackers.
  3. Use secure websites. When making purchases or sharing your financial information online, check the web address for “https” or look for a lock icon in the browser.  This lets you know the page is secure and safe to enter your financial information.
  4. Monitor accounts. Be sure to check your statements frequently, this way you can catch theft or fraud quickly.  The sooner you realize your financial information has been breached the sooner you can restore your account.
  5. Be aware. From Target to Adobe, a number of well-known and trusted companies have fallen victim to a data breach. When these news stories come up, be on the lookout for companies that could potentially have your financial information.

Remember to always be cautious when sharing your personal and financial information online, especially when using a wireless connection. Most importantly, create strong passwords and change them frequently.

For more information on what to do if you become a victim of identity theft, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.

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