MONEY MATTERS: Protect your finances online



During periods of crisis, cyber criminals often increase their attacks, taking advantage of chaos to pry information from unsuspecting victims. Here are some steps you can take during these turbulent times to protect your identity and finances online:

Strong passwords

A password is considered strong when it consists of 10 or more characters, a combination of upper and lower letters with at least one number and one symbol. Cyber security experts recommend changing your passwords as often as every three months, as long as your replacement passwords are sufficiently strong. Consider using a password manager, which makes it easier to generate and recall strong passwords.

Antivirus software

Hackers are constantly looking for ways into personal computer systems. The best antivirus software providers stay one step ahead of the scammers, but you need to enable updates for maximum benefit. Keep your antivirus program current to reduce your vulnerability to these attacks.

Secure Wi-Fi

Avoid logging in to financial accounts when you’re away from a trusted Wi-Fi connection. Public Wi-Fi may not be secure, which means any personal or financial information you enter during a public Wi-Fi connection may be easily compromised. At home, double check that your router is properly encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. 

Monitor accounts

Keep a close eye on your checking, saving and investment account activity. If you notice anything strange, contact your bank or credit card issuer. Give your financial institution permission to notify you of suspicious activity by activating alerts. 

Two-stepauthentication

Many financial institutions offer the option of two-step authentication to discourage fraud. When you opt into this added layer of security, you will have to go through an extra step to verify it’s you when accessing accounts.

It may take another minute of your time, but it’s worth the security of knowing you’re making it much harder for hackers to breach your accounts.

Stop beforeyou click

Be wary of spoof emails and online ads that seek access to your passwords and other sensitive information. Many spammers use fake return addresses that are easy to spot, but others have adopted more sophisticated schemes to get you to engage. 

Jeff Jolly, CFP, is a Private Wealth Advisor and Sr. Vice President with Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, in North Haven. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 16 years. Contact him at 203-407-8188 ext. 330. 

 



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