One of our most frequently asked questions from our customers is “How can I keep my banking and personal information safe?” Your safety is our number one priority. That’s why I want to discuss the methods fraudsters can use to get a hold of your information, and how to make sure you don’t become one of their targets!
Sometimes in the news we hear about merchants or credit card processors being hacked, and customer’s sensitive information being leaked. This ends up being very large scale, compromising thousands of customer accounts. The TJX cybertheft, discovered in 2007, was the largest, with more than 45 million credit and debit card numbers stolen.
Skimming refers to your information being captured and stored by a physical device mounted on a card reader, which could be an ATM or a gas pump. You swipe your card and pump your gas or take your cash, and you leave your information behind for the fraudster to collect.
One of the more clever types of information theft, phishing is an attack that comes in the form of an email that appears to be from a source you trust. This can be your bank, a store you shop at often, or any type of website you may have given your credit card number to in the past. They will perform the theft in one of two ways. Sometimes they will directly ask you for your information, such as your username, password, or your actual account or card number. Other times they will include links in the email that will take to you web pages that look identical to the legitimate website you would normally visit. When you enter your information, it is captured and stored for use by the fraudster.
How Do You Keep Your Information Safe?
Here at PerkStreet, we’re always looking out for your financial safety. We have a lot of resources to help you keep your personal information safe, but the most important bear repeating.
1) First and foremost, never EVER give out your password, account number, or any other sensitive info. We’ll never ask for it, and neither should anyone who claims to work for another financial institution you do business with.
2) Make sure to choose tricky passwords, and change them often. Don’t use familiar names, birthdays, or other combinations that are easy to guess.
3) Install anti-virus software, and run a scan weekly. This is something a lot of people overlook or forget (ahem.), but your anti-virus software and computer firewall is your first line of defense against hackers and phishers. Make sure it’s doing its job properly!
4) Never click on any links you receive in emails, or open any files, unless you are 100% sure where they came from. If nothing else, being a little more cautious will also supply you with a legitimate reason to give your Aunt Deb about why you stopped opening her emails with the “cute” cat pictures in them!
5) Monitor your account regularly and if you see transactions you don’t recognize, call the merchant to investigate (sometimes those things you buy online have a different business name). Don’t hesitate to call us; we can quickly put a temporary hold on your card or have it reissued with a new number.
6) MasterCard also works to keep you safe. In addition to the Zero Liability policy, MasterCard is notified when there has been a security breach at a merchant and they freeze fraudulent transactions before they ever hit your account, notifyingus to reissue new cards.
If you think something out of the ordinary is happening with your account, or you have a sneaking suspicion someone may have gotten a hold of your information, call your bank right away. The sooner they’re alerted to suspicious activity, the sooner they can take steps to make sure the fraudster is stopped.
What other tips do you have to stay safe while banking and shopping online? Leave a comment below!