5 ways to protect your financial information

More than 160 million Americans use online banking services, with 94% of those users accessing their accounts at least once a month. Although online banking offers convenience and speed, it's difficult to ignore the ever-growing possibility of one’s financial or personal data falling into the hands of cybercriminals. 

Hackers are targeting banks and credit unions.

In 2019, more than 100 million US and Canadian Capital One accounts were hacked, impacting both small businesses and individuals. The breach accessed the personal and financial information of users, including their names, birthdates, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, email addresses, credit scores, balances, and mailing addresses.

In 2014, JPMorgan Chase fell victim to a massive data breach of approximately 83 million account holders, exposing their names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. It was one of the largest financial data breaches to ever occur at the time. 

How to protect your financial information

Being proactive is one of the best ways to protect your financial information, but many consumers aren’t sure where to start. Here are a few tips that will help keep your data secure: 

1. Don’t save your credit or debit card numbers on websites

Sixty-four percent of credit card users save their card information online or in mobile apps to speed up future purchases. Although this may offer convenience, cybersecurity experts advise against it because this makes it easier for hackers to access and steal your financial information. Though it’s more time-consuming, manually entering your info when buying products online is a much safer option. 

Additionally, only make purchases on trusted websites with security features that protect the checkout process. Not sure if a website is trustworthy? You can enter its address here to verify its authenticity. 

2. Create and implement stronger, longer passwords

A strong password is one of the best ways to protect yourself against digital thieves. Unfortunately, a short, easy-to-guess password is just as ineffective as not using one at all. Instead of stringing one or two words together, opt for full phrases that contain a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Refrain from using your first or last name (or other words that would be easy to guess, such as your favorite sports team) and replace any letters with similar-looking characters—think “@” and “A.”

Sites such as passwordmeter.com can also be used to rate the effectiveness of potential passwords and generate strong passwords for users. Choosing a strong password is essential to protecting your data because approximately half of the traditional antivirus products fail to detect well-known online threats.

3. Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication

Ensure that your bank or financial organization offers two- or multi-factor authentication—a service that provides additional ways for customers to verify that they are who they claim to be. This could mean answering security questions that only they would know, or submitting a numerical code generated in real-time and sent to their smartphone or email. 

This gives customers multiple opportunities and avenues to protect their financial information. Instead of simply providing the correct answers to questions asked on your bank’s website — such as “What was your high school mascot?” or “What was the make and model of your first car?” — customers can also enter a distinct code made up of letters, numbers, and special characters to confirm their identity.

4. Remain vigilant

Regularly monitoring all credit and debit card transactions on your online bank accounts will help you spot unauthorized transactions as soon as they happen. Logging into these accounts at least two to three times per week gives you peace of mind and lets you verify every transaction made. 

5. Take action immediately

Speed matters. If you believe your financial information has been compromised, it’s best to reach out to your bank as soon as possible to freeze your cards and place alerts on your accounts to identify any fraudulent transactions. 

Protecting your financial information is a vital part of digital banking, as the looming threat of hacks is only getting worse. In 2019, 62% percent of leaked data came from the financial services industry, and that number is on the rise. Although strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and swift action are useful protective measures, it’s important for banks and credit unions to have security measures in place that protect customers. Learn more about how Texas Tech Credit Union safeguards its members from cybersecurity threats. Contact us today.