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Elvis Huff: How to keep financial information safe online

Elvis Huff • Updated Mar 11, 2018 at 10:15 PM

Are you worried about conducting business online? It’s a valid concern. Cyberattacks, hacks and breaches fill the headlines. 

Here are five quick tips you can use to keep your finances safe while online:

• Create yourself: As soon as you are done reading this, you should move away from paper statements and register to view your account online. Why? Cybercriminals have been known to use stolen information to create accounts for various services like Social Security, retirement accounts and online banking, to name a few. If your online account already exists, they cannot create another one using your name or account number.

Once a criminal creates the online account, they are you. They can do things such as redirect benefits, make withdrawals, etc. Imagine the difficulty trying to disprove that you did not use your information to register your online account. Having your account online also gives you immediate access to your information.

• Double it up: Use two-factor authentication wherever possible. What is 2FA? It’s a one-time code that only you have, entered when your username and password are required. The code is randomly generated and sent to you via an app such as Google Authenticator or a text message.

Why do this? Even if a bad guy has your username and password, they cannot log into your account without this code. A good place to begin setting this up is on your email.

• In case of emergency: Remember those questions your online email provider often surprises you with to “Confirm your backup account information?” You should enter this information in as soon as possible and actually update it when prompted. If a cybercriminal does gain access to your email account, and locks you out, you may be able to get back in with this backup information.

Think email is not important to protect?  Where do you get your electronic tax returns sent? How about your most recent banking statement? Your email account is a treasure-trove of information to cybercriminals.

• Update, update, update: Update your devices as soon as possible. Why? These updates often contain critical security patches that will keep cybercriminals from getting access to your device. Update now, and update often.

• Don’t click, delete: Did you receive a suspicious email enticing you to click the link or call a number? Phishing emails, as these are known, will contain language wanting you to click now to confirm and “secure” your information. The best thing to do is to simply delete the message. If you are curious about what the email says, contact the company in question at a number or email other than the one listed in the email.

Elvis Huff is director of security and assistant vice president of Wilson Bank & Trust. For more cyber security tips, visit the Wilson Bank & Trust blog at wbtsecurityblog.com.

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