(StatePoint) With so many new methods for cyber theft, it’s important to remember to take extra steps to protect your bank accounts and money this season, as criminals look to take advantage of the increased spending activity.
There are steps you can take to protect your identity and your wallet. Here are some tips for more secure holiday spending:
• Create unique pin numbers for your debit cards, as well as complex usernames and passwords for bank accounts and online retailers. Never share this information with anyone, and be sure to log out of your accounts when your transactions are completed. Conduct personal business on your home computer or personal device as opposed to public WiFi, and always use a secure Internet connection.
• Manage privacy settings on your mobile devices and apps. Review the privacy disclosures for retailers and websites to ensure you feel comfortable with the way they use your personal information. Set your mobile devices and PCs to lock when not in use to prevent someone from getting access to your personal data.
• Before responding to any request for personal or financial data, make sure you know who is asking and why they need it. Be extra careful of requests made with an urgent or threatening tone, or an offer that sounds too good to be true. Criminals use this trick to get personal information to access your accounts or commit identity theft.
• Monitor accounts and spending activity frequently. Take advantage of banking features, such as alerts that trigger when you have a low balance or unusual spending activity.
“Many banks provide mobile banking apps that allow you to keep tabs on your account activity on-the-go,” says Diane Morais, Ally Bank deposits and line of business integration executive. “In addition to their convenience, mobile apps are an excellent resource to spot unusual transactions in a timely manner.”
• Online shopping is an easy way to beat the crowds at the mall. But before providing your credit or debit card information, ensure your computer protection software and operating system are up to date.
Some banks offer customers free or discounted anti-virus protection. For example, Ally Bank, Member FDIC, provides its customers Webroot SecureAnywhere anti-virus software to protect their devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones, for free. Most people understand the importance of protecting their computers, but it’s important to protect your smartphones too.
Look for “https” in the web address field of your browser to ensure a website is secure. The site should be verified by TRUSTe or a similar data security service.
• Check your credit reports periodically. Getting a free credit report is easy. During the holiday season, it might be worth the extra precaution to put a fraud alert on your credit report before any new accounts can be opened.
More tips to protect both your identity and wallet can be found at www.Ally.com/security/.