In today’s Internet-driven age, it is not uncommon to read or hear about cyber-crimes on an almost daily basis. While some make national and even worldwide headlines, others never reach the front pages. Still, many of those latter ones prove devastating to consumers across the nation and around the world.
When a cyber-criminal literally reaches through your computer or swoops in when you least expect it and messes with your life (specifically your financial well-being), the consequences can take some time to recover from.So, are you ready to stay one step ahead of those looking to do financial damage in your life?
Review and Reinforce Your Online Activities
While there are no 100 percent foolproof ways to outsmart cyber-criminals, there are myriad of means whereby you can stay a step or two ahead of them.
- Review your online footprints – Would you consider yourself good at protecting your online movements or hap-hazard? If you’re in the latter group, change that immediately. For starters, do not put pertinent personal financial information out on the Internet for everyone to see. This includes credit card numbers, your SSN, bank account information etc. If you buy something online, make sure the site you are purchasing from is secure before providing your credit card info, home address and phone number etc. If you do not feel 100 percent confident that the site you are purchasing from is secure, don’t give your sensitive financial details;
- Careful when traveling and/or away from home – Whether for pleasure or business, be mindful of using the Internet when traveling or using Internet spots around town. You could be exposing yourself to cyber-criminals if you use an unsecure Internet hookup, especially in hotels, coffee shops, airports, libraries etc. Check with the folks on the premises where you are using your laptop or a public computer, making sure there is the proper security firewall in place;
- Motels, hotels and inns – While the majority of consumers typically have satisfactory experiences when traveling, it just takes that one bad moment to change you financial life, and not for the better. Don’t be foolish when leaving your room (even if just for a short period of time) to leave a credit card or other financial documents sitting around. If you have a laptop with you on your trip, make sure it is secured and accessible to only you. You wouldn’t leave large wads of cash sitting around your room while gone (at least hopefully not), so don’t have other financial documents (credit cards, an ATM card etc.) sitting out for others to see. The idea of a trip is to have fun, not be sweating things out because someone got ahold of your financial data;
- Sharing is not always caring – In the event you let a family member, friend or co-worker borrow your credit card to make a purchase, be sure they use it wisely. They should also have the utmost confidence that the computer they’re on has security software on it and the server in use is protected too. It just takes one slip-up on your part or the individual borrowing your credit card, exposing you to identity theft. The best solution is you make the purchase for the individual on your secure computer and/or a secure public computer, then have the person reimburse you;
- Is your personal financial data accounted for? – How many times have you gone somewhere, charged something on your credit card, then either misplaced your card or left a receipt behind for the entire world to see? It literally just takes seconds for an identity theft thief to obtain your credit card info, and then put it to use for his or her bad intentions. While you do not always have a ton of cash at your disposal, use cash more times than not to alleviate the misplaced credit card or the receipts.
With cyber criminals looking to make you and/or your family their next victims, stay one step ahead of the game. Always practice safe techniques when it comes to handling your money and the vehicles you use to obtain such funds. Lastly, it is always best to be too cautious than to risk putting your financial well-being in harm’s way.
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