Cybercrime is becoming increasingly more common, and it’s likely to cost businesses and individuals $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Last year, more than 1,000 data breaches were reported in the U.S., and data leaks impacted more than 155.8 million people.
Financial institutions such as banks and credit unions are falling victim to cybercrime more frequently. In 2019, more than 100 million Capital One accounts in Canada and the U.S. were exposed, impacting both small businesses and individuals. The leak exposed the personal and financial information of hundreds of millions of users, such as their names, birthdates, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, email addresses, credit scores, balances, and mailing addresses.
JPMorgan Chase also experienced a data breach of up to 83 million accounts in 2014, exposing customers’ names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. In 2019, 62% of leaked data happened within the financial services industry. Even more alarming, traditional antivirus software and firewalls aren’t always 100% secure.
Though 90% of internet users worry about their passwords getting stolen, statistics show that many aren’t doing enough to keep them secure.
As more consumers turn to mobile and online banking, the potential to inadvertently place one’s financial data into the wrong hands becomes higher. Around 196.8 million Americans will use digital banking in 2021. How can consumers protect their personal and financial information? Creating complex passwords can help.
Think of your password as the first line of defense against cybercrime. Yes, it may be easier to use a short, simple password that’s easy to remember, but doing so can be risky. Employing longer phrases that contain a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters improves online banking security, making your data less vulnerable to hackers.
Instead of combining one or two shorter words, use phrases or short sentences that contain letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t include your first or last name or any words that would be simple to guess (such as your street name, high school mascot, or favorite sports team).
For example, instead of using “Pizza123” as your password, use the phrase, “I really love pepperoni pizza,” or “Pepperoni pizza is my favorite food.”
For an even more effective password, replace certain letters with characters or numbers that are similar in appearance, such as “A” and “@” or “L” and “1.”
Instead of “IReallyLovePepperoniPizza,” use “1R3allyL0v3P3pp30n1P1zz@.” The phrase is easy to remember, but the numbers and special characters make the password more complex and less vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Helpful websites like Dashlane.com and passwordmeter.com can help you generate unique passwords that will be effective against online hackers. If you’re worried about creating a password that may be too challenging to remember or have to regularly update your password, consider using a password vault like LastPass.
While cybersecurity experts disagree about how often you should be changing your password, doing so will undoubtedly help further safeguard your online banking accounts. Depending on its strength, a password should be swapped out for a new one every 3-6 months, and it should always be changed if it’s part of a recent data leak.
In addition to using strong passwords, you can protect your online banking accounts if you:
Make sure that your credit union or bank offers members two- or multifactor authentication options, which provide additional protection for your online banking accounts. Multifactor authentication varies; it could include questions that only a specific person would know or a code sent to your email address or phone number.
Use a strong password that contains different letters, numbers, and special characters instead of providing the answers to questions asked on your bank’s website, such as “What was the name of the street you grew up on?” or “Where do you want to retire?”
Logging into your online banking accounts and overseeing your credit and debit card transactions will help identify fraudulent charges or withdrawals as soon as they take place. Check these accounts a few times a week.
If you think your financial information has been breached, contact your bank or credit union as soon as possible. Doing so will place alerts on your online banking accounts and freeze your credit or debit cards. Financial organizations such as Texas Tech Credit Union allow members to report unauthorized financial activity conveniently on the app or website.
Protecting your online banking data with strong passwords can help safeguard your accounts. It’s also imperative for banks and credit unions to have advanced security protocols that protect customers. Sign up for an account today to learn how we protect our members’ financial information.