Here’s How To Protect Your Financial Accounts From Hackers

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financial hackerAs a financial advisor I usually don’t write about financial theft or hackers. However, with the recent security breach at Target it may be time. Around Thanksgiving thousands of credit and debit cards that were used in Target stores were compromised.

We all get bombarded with security issues everyday. Everything from change your PIN, update your password, to computer software to prevent hacking and viruses. Cyber security attacks can come at anytime and affect any one of us.

Here are a few ideas to protect your financial accounts:

  • When you get a credit card statement, actually check the charges. Are there any that you don’t recognize? Pay attention to small transactions in particular. Hackers will charge a small amount to test the waters before buying that new Ski-do.
  • Check you bank account statements for any unusual withdrawals. I often ask my wife, “did you go to the ATM yesterday?” That’s my way of making sure one of us did the withdrawal.
  • Change the passwords frequently on your financial accounts. Every 90 days is often enough. I know it’s a pain in the butt, but so is having the account wiped out by a hacker.
  • Change your PINs on your debit card. I promise it won’t be the end of the world.
  • Check your credit report for any accounts that have been opened without your permission.
  • Change your email passwords too. Many of us receive statements via email so it makes sense to change it too.
  • Don’t give out your credit or debit card number over the phone. You have no idea who is asking for it.

Consider a one time refresh of these passwords and pins. Make your passwords much longer and combine numbers, lower case and uppercase letters. Stop using obvious passwords like “password”, “1234”, or your birthday. Take these steps before you have a problem. A little preventive maintenance will go a long way. By the way I just received an email from Target notifying me that my data may have been stolen.

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