Cybersecurity is a 24/7 concern for consumers--at least it should be. Here at Bank Independent, our cybersecurity team is deeply committed to protecting the personal and financial information entrusted to us by our customers. Part of that commitment includes providing consumers and businesses with up-to-date information and recommendations on measures you can take to prevent fraud at home and on the go.
Here are some tips to help you protect your money from online criminals:
- Use strong passwords. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to create strong passwords. Avoid using easily guessable information like your name, birth date, and phone number.
- Enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring a code and your password. This code is usually sent to your phone or generated by an app.
- Get to know standard Internet safety features. For example, when banking or shopping online, look for a padlock symbol on a page (that means it is secure) and "https://" at the beginning of the Web address (signifying that the website is authentic and encrypts data during transmission).
- Be smart about where and how you connect to the Internet for banking or other communications involving sensitive personal information. Public Wi-Fi networks and computers at places such as libraries or hotel business centers can be risky if they don’t have up-to-date security software.
- Check your accounts regularly. Regularly checking your bank and credit card accounts can help you catch any unauthorized transactions early on. If you notice anything suspicious, report it to your bank or credit card company immediately.
- Be wary of phishing scams. Phishing scams are when criminals send emails or messages that look like they are from a legitimate source, but are actually designed to steal your personal information. Be suspicious of any emails or messages that ask you to enter personal information or click on a link.
- Have computer security programs running and regularly updated to look for the latest threats. Install anti-virus software to protect against malware (malicious software) that can steal information such as account numbers and passwords, and use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your computer.
- Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly online and asks for your personal information. A safe strategy is to ignore unsolicited requests for information, no matter how legitimate they appear, especially if they ask for information such as a Social Security number, bank account number, and passwords.
- Be discreet when using social networking sites. Criminals comb those sites looking for information such as someone’s place of birth, mother’s maiden name, or a pet’s name, in case those details can help them guess or reset passwords for online accounts.
- Be careful when using smartphones and tablets. Don’t leave your mobile device unattended and use a device password or other method to control access if it’s stolen or lost.
- Parents and caregivers should include children in their cybersecurity planning. Please talk with your child about being safe online, including the risks of sharing personal information with people they don’t know, and make sure the devices they use to connect to the Internet have up-to-date security.
- Small business owners should have policies and training for their employees on topics similar to those provided in this checklist for customers, plus other issues that are specific to the business. For example, consider requiring more information beyond a password to gain access to your business’s network, and additional safety measures, such as requiring confirmation calls with your financial institution before certain electronic transfers are authorized
By following these tips, you can help protect your money from online criminals and stay safe while conducting online transactions.