How to keep your financial information safe online
It's important to make sure all your financial information is safe and secure
Thanks to online shopping and banking, there is so much we can now do online. You can buy almost anything you need, organise all your accounts and even apply for loans or a credit card. Your online identity and accounts can do so much that it’s crucial you keep them secure and confidential. Here are some great tips to keep yourself safe online.
In this section
- Never e-mail or message credit card numbers
- Make sure the websites you are using are secure
- Set spending alerts
- Avoid scams or suspicious behaviour
- Don't write down sensitive information
- Secure your email
- Consider using PayPal for online payments
Avoid saving details on browsers or computer that isn't yours
If you are using a computer or device that isn’t yours, always make sure the computer or browser doesn’t save your financial details. Many browsers these days can automatically save your credit card information, making your next transaction run more quickly thanks to autocomplete. If you don’t own the device or computer you are using then make sure don’t agree to it saving your details.
Never e-mail or message credit card numbers
Sometimes we all need to send credit card or banking information to a friend or loved one. Perhaps you are passing on your credit card number to your friend to book something, or are sending your parents your bank account number. Doing this is a serious risk as you not only are depending on your own e-mail or messaging accounts security but that of the person you are sending the information to. If either of your accounts are hacked then the hacker might be able to search for those details. If you need to tell someone of your financial information it’s best to do it in person or call them and tell them over the phone.
Make sure the websites you are using are secure
If you are thinking of buying something online, just take a second to make sure the website is exactly what it claims to be. There are a few simple things to double check this.
- Is it secure? - Check if the URL is secure, make sure the URL starts with HTTPS. This stands for ‘Hypertext Transfer Protocol - Secure’ which means you have a greater level of encryption between you and the website, preventing people from snooping in on your transaction. This is often signified with a green lock or certificate icon in your URL bar meaning you and the server will have an encrypted interaction.
- Is this the real website? - Sometimes hackers will make a fake website to gather information (called phishing) which looks exactly like the one you were expecting but have it on a different server, meaning the address will be wrong. Double check that the URL is what it should be.
- Don’t let them save your credit/debit card - If you are making a once-off purchase with a retailer don’t let them save your credit card for future use. It’s a risk not worth taking if you’re using that store once as if they’re data is hacked yours will be too. Minimise your risk and provide your information again should you make a purchase with them in the future.
Set spending alerts
Most banks with online banking now have the ability to send you a text or email if you are spending over a certain amount per day, or if your balance drops to a specific level. We would really recommend enabling this for your account as it will give you a heads up if someone has compromised your account and is on a spending spree. While most accounts are protected against fraudulent activity, knowing if it’s happening can save you a lot of hassle if you can catch it early.
Avoid scams or suspicious behaviour
A good rule of thumb for avoiding scams online is “if it seems too good to be true, it usually is”. Bear in mind that hackers can make an email look like it came from anyone, right down to imitating their address. If a person or company tries to contact you looking for data treat it as suspicious. If the email claims to come from a friend or family member and you are unsure then reach out them in person or with a phone call. If a company or bank is trying to get more information then do the same or visit their website.
A lot of the time hackers will use email to get you to follow a link to their fake website. There they will ask you to sign-in or provide some financial information. Never click a link in an email you are suspicious of. Visit the website by typing the URL yourself or finding it on google. Usually if a bank or company genuinely is looking for information from you it will be apparent when you sign into the real website. Otherwise, it was probably a hoax so mark that email as spam and move on with your life!
Remember, you bank will never ever send you an email to request your bank details. Do not respond if you receive an email asking you to send them.
Don’t write down sensitive information
If you are writing down information for someone, such as login information or your banking details make sure it’s destroyed or kept in a safe place. Someone coming into contact with that information can be disastrous so be safe.
Secure your email
A really simple tip but make sure your email is secure with a great password and two-step sign-in turned on if you wish. You email contains a lot of information from your bank, receipts from transactions you’ve completed and might even have bank statements. Also, you might be able to reset account information using your email address so make sure it’s security is in tip-top shape.
Use secure gateways for online payments
PayPal is a secure way to exchange money online, so it's worth looking into.