The internet has changed a lot about the way we experience the world around us. From how we communicate with each other, to the choices we make when we shop and bank, convenience is key. Not long ago, we needed to visit a brick and mortar financial institution to complete any transaction. The introduction of online and mobile banking brought convenience to our fingertips, but it does come with a downside – concerns about security. As your local credit union, Orion FCU is committed to keeping your financial health top of mind and we take your financial security seriously.
If you are not taking the proper precautions to keep your data secure, it can be easy for your personal information to end up in the wrong hands. In 2017 alone, there were nearly 17 million U.S. victims of identity fraud, a new all-time high. With more than a billion online and mobile banking users worldwide, identity thieves are just waiting for an opportunity to strike. At Orion, we have tested and proven security measures in place, but we also encourage you to take action to protect your own financial information. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Watch your Wi-Fi
Wireless internet connections are great when you are on the go, but when you are on a public Wi-Fi network, your information can easily be intercepted by someone else. Hotels, restaurants, airports, and other public places tend to have reduced security settings when compared to an encrypted network or your mobile carrier’s connection. If you are using an unsecured network, avoid doing anything that would require you to transmit your personal or financial information, such as making purchases or checking your bank account. If you need to access your accounts on-the-go, use your mobile network connection as a safer option.
Create strong passwords
If your password is easy for you to remember and enter, chances are it is easy enough for a thief to hack. Using your name or birthday as your password may save you a few seconds when logging in, but if it’s easy for you, it could be easy for hackers, too. Use passwords that are a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation instead, and avoid including any personal indicators in it.
If you are a fan of writing things down, make sure to store any passwords in a private place and not somewhere obvious, like your desktop or in your wallet. It is also not a best practice to store your passwords on your phone or on your tablet. Update all your passwords regularly, and use a different password for every account you have online. You can also look into password management systems such as LastPass, which will store encrypted passwords in private accounts for you.
Pay attention when you log in and log out
Many web browsers will offer to store your username and password for you. This can sometimes include banking information. While this may save you time and mental energy, this means that anyone with access to your computer also has access to your account. Be sure that your web browser is not storing any of your online banking information, and disable this feature before performing transactions of any kind.
When your session is complete, remember to log off the site after every use, especially if you are using a public computer for any reason. Never stay logged in to shops, social media, or email accounts. This makes it much more difficult for someone to steal your information if they access your connection or log in after you.
Beware of phishing calls, text, or emails
Scams have evolved since the days of “Nigerian princes” emailing you to ask for money. Fraudulent email activity, also known as phishing, has gotten even more sophisticated over time. Even if you are tech savvy, you might still have to look twice to verify authenticity.
If you receive any emails asking you to or reply with any personal or financial information, steer clear. The same holds true for calls or texts that sound or look professional, but ask you to part with personal details. Legitimate companies are concerned with your security and privacy, and will never ask you to verify sensitive information in such a non-secure manner.
Use your bank’s official mobile app
Thieves and fraudsters today are incredibly resourceful and innovative in finding new ways to steal information and money online. They can create emails, texts, and even apps that look extremely close to the real thing. Verify your financial institution’s official mobile app before making any transactions. You can find Orion’s official mobile banking app for Apple and Android. These apps are tested rigorously to ensure your data is encrypted and stays secure. If you are ever in doubt about the validity of your mobile app, check with your financial institution to confirm it is legitimate, and do not be afraid to report anything unusual.
If you have any concerns about your secure information, or if you have actually been hacked, it is a good idea to check your bank account and your credit report regularly. This can help you identify and catch any fraudulent activity early. To be even more proactive, set up custom alerts with your bank accounts. This will help both your financial institution and you act quickly in the event of any suspected identity theft.
Your personal information is valuable and should be safeguarded to the best of your ability. Taking the time and effort to protect these details now can save you a great deal of time and trouble in the future, and help prevent potentially serious financial loss.