It’s not as hard as you may think to protect your money, but some of us still suffer from a serious lack of common sense. Why work so hard for that paycheck and not take active measures to make sure no one but you can touch it?
Becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud should be frightening because it happens every minute of every day, but there are many steps you can take to better protect your wallet and credit cards, both online and offline. Here are a few to get you started.
You only need one
If you find yourself shopping at Target, and you plan on using your Target RedCard, then there’s no reason to have five other credit cards on you. Take the card you intend to use and one additional card for emergency purposes. Leave the rest of your cards at home. This way, if you lose your wallet or someone has sticky fingers, you won’t lose every single source of money you have.
Secure websites and connections only
Online shopping is home to a significant percentage of identity theft. People aren’t aware that they may not be shopping on secured websites or over a secure connection. If you’re going to buy online, look for the “https” or lock icon on the left side of the URL bar. Next, try to do as much (if not all) of your online shopping at home on a secure, password-protected internet connection.
Log out every time
Do not remain logged into your bank account in your browser or on a mobile application. Completely log out every single time. If someone steals or hacks your device and you’re still logged into your account, then it won’t take very long or very much effort for this nefarious person to gain unrestricted access to your bank account. This also means you should never let the application or browser remember your login credentials for you.
Use strong passwords
Unfortunately it won’t do very much good to log out of your account if you’re securing your account with a weak password. Do not use “password.” Come on, guys. Every account you have should always be secured with solid login credentials, but this especially holds true for the accounts that have access to financial information. Keep your passwords random, shoot for longer phrases, and play around with spellings, capitalizations, and numbers.
Always be suspicious
Don’t feel guilty for being naturally suspicious of everyone. Suspicion is your greatest ally. When you’re walking around public places, keep your wallet close to your body and concealed. And when you’re swiping your cards at the register, make sure no one can see the numbers on the card or the pin code you punch in. It doesn’t matter if there’s a 10-year-old boy behind you or an elderly grandma. Be aware.
Shoot for credit, not debit
If your financial information does fall into the wrong hands at some point, it’s better for you if it’s a credit card, as opposed to the cards directly linked to your bank account. Credit companies typically provide a more reasonable timeline for disputing charges. And think of it this way: would you rather have someone max out a credit card or drain your bank account?