Regularly check your online account balance for unauthorized activity. Timing is a factor in your response to unauthorized electronic fund transactions. If you receive a paper account balance, make sure that you reconcile it with your online balance.
Choose an institution that uses industry-standard security. You probably already want a bank or credit union that offers accounts with low fees and high interest rates. Add “top notch security” to your checklist. Then, make sure your online accounts are backed by robust technology.
An example is multifactor authentication. Here’s how it works: When logging in, instead of just asking for a username and password, the financial institution requires you to provide another piece of information, or factor, to verify yourself. It could be a unique passcode sent to your smartphone as a text message, or even your own fingerprint. The point is it’s another layer, one not so easy to steal.
Install anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware programs on your computer and keep them up to date. Installing and updating this software protects your computer and its contents against unauthorized access. You should turn on automatic updates for these programs or, if prompted, always agree to download system updates as soon as they are available.
Avoid situations where personal information can be intercepted, retrieved, or viewed by unauthorized individuals. You should conduct online bank transactions in locations that are not subject to public monitoring. When you are entering login information, you should avoid using unsecured or public network connections (for example, at a coffee shop or library). As a general rule, you should avoid using any computer that other people can freely access; the end result could be unauthorized access of your financial information. Remember, it is possible for your account information to be stored in the web browser’s temporary memory.
If you receive email correspondence about a financial account, verify its authenticity by contacting your bank or financial institution. You should not reply to any email requests for security information, warnings of an account suspension, opportunities to make easy money, overseas requests for financial assistance, and so forth. Also, links found in these suspicious emails should not be clicked. Forward a copy of the suspicious email to the Federal Trade Commission at [email protected] and then delete the email from your mailbox
If you have disclosed financial information to a fraudulent web site, file reports with the following organizations:
• your bank • the local police
• the Federal Trade Commission – http://www.ftc.gov
• the Internet Crime Complaint Center – http://www.ic3.gov
• the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnio