Shopping online, sending money home, and using food delivery apps… everything we do online leaves a trail. This not only affects our data but also our financial and payment information.
When it comes to payments, we use a variety of methods. We may prefer our traditional bank account for savings, a card for in-store purchases, Google Pay for in-app payments, a money transfer app for splitting a bill with friends, and a company credit card. to purchase a subscription online.
Although we can do all this quite safely, it’s never too early to ask ourselves: is my money safe?
If you generally like to play it safe, you may already be on the lookout for certain risks, for example, theft of credit card information or a data breach, but could one foresee a financial service going bankrupt? overnight?
So let’s look at some things you can (and should) do to keep your money and personal information safe online.
Protect your personal data
This may seem obvious, but it cannot be stressed enough: you must be careful with your personal information on the Internet.
Avoid suspicious websites. If you have any reason to doubt the legitimacy of a website (is it too good to be true?), or the website is not secure (note the https), it’s simple: do not enter any personal or financial information and, preferably, don’t use it at all.
Set strong, unique passwords. Don’t use obvious words or dates (like your name or date of birth) when setting passwords, and certainly don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, especially when those accounts store your payment information.
Clear your cache. From time to time, clear your cache and cookies or simply log out of websites you haven’t used in a while. Saving your password can be convenient, but you should only do it for websites you use frequently and if no one else uses your device.
Use a vault. As tempting as it may be at times, don’t store your passwords in easily accessible, unprotected, or shared documents. Many vault solutions offer both the security and ease of use you need.
Protect your money and financial information
It is not uncommon to have accounts at more than one bank (50% of US cardholders do) or to have multiple accounts at non-bank financial services providers in addition to your bank account.
These services are generally governed by strict financial regulations that ensure they comply with all relevant laws and offer high levels of security.
If you want to be calmer before opting for a money transfer service or application, here are some criteria that will help you make a safe decision.
Does the service have a banking license, and if so, where?
Although financial services can function perfectly well without a banking license, customer funds enjoy some additional protection: for example, in Europe, deposits are guaranteed by the European Deposit Protection System if the entity holding them has a banking license.
However, most services choose to partner with banks, which gives you protection if your funds are in a bank account and not the service itself.
Who has your money?
Naturally, if the service or app you use requires you to top up your account, you need to ask yourself where that money is kept (in a bank or on the service?). If you use an established and well-known provider, there should be no problem in any case.
If you use a service that stores funds, be aware that glitches can happen (and this will always be a bad time), and make sure you do everything you can to check whether the service is trustworthy or not, to avoid losing your money completely.
Is there a spending limit?
A daily or monthly transfer limit, as well as a limit when it comes to cross-border transactions, are good indicators that the company is compliant with financial regulations, such as anti-money laundering (AML). With Fin. do, for example, users have a maximum sending limit of $1,500 per day and $35,000 per month.
The limitations on transfers demonstrate that the service prioritizes the security of its customers and their finances, keeping its network free of any illegal activity.
Does the service or app feel secure?
We all like to do things with a single click, but the reality is that some security verification is necessary to ensure that users are authentic and identifiable people.
If an app asks for your documentation (like an ID or photo), you can breathe a sigh of relief. This shows that they take security seriously and aim to reduce the risk of fraud when using their service.
Of course, there is no way to always eliminate 100% of the risks. But even a basic examination of the above criteria can minimize your risks when transacting online.
Tips to keep your money safe online
Here are some helpful tips (from Kaspersky Lab’s team of security experts) to help you protect your money and data when you’re online:
Do not assume links are genuine
- When you need to visit an online bank, store, or payment website, you must manually enter the URL, rather than clicking on a link. Do not visit websites by clicking:
- Links in emails
- Messages on social networking sites
- Messages in chat rooms
- Banner ads on suspicious websites
- Links sent by people you don’t know
Be careful with false communications
Most financial organizations never send emails asking customers to:
- Send personal data in an email
- Visit their site to obtain authorization
- Enter personal data in pop-up windows
Check the URL
When you visit a web page that requires the entry of sensitive data, carefully check that the page address displayed in your browser matches the page you are trying to access. If the URL consists of a random selection of letters and numbers (or looks suspicious), do not enter any information.
Whenever you need to enter sensitive data, be sure to use an encrypted connection. If a connection is secure, the URL will begin with the letter “https” and the browser’s address bar or status bar will display a small lock icon.
When you click the lock icon, look closely at the information about the SSL authentication certificate that was issued to the site (you can see when the certificate was issued, who issued it, and the period for which it was issued).
Use your computer and your Internet connection
Try to avoid using public computers (in internet cafes, airports, clubs, hotels, libraries, or other locations) when you need to access online banking services or online retail stores. These public computers may have various spyware programs running. If so, such malware could record everything you type on your keyboard (including your passwords) and intercept Internet traffic.
Even if you use your computer to conduct online transactions, you should avoid connecting to the Internet over public Wi-Fi. On a public Wi-Fi network, there is a risk that traffic could be intercepted by the network administrator or cybercriminals, which could lead to network worm attacks.
Do not use your main credit card or debit card
You can get a special card to use only for online purchases. It may be possible to restrict the credit limit of your “online credit card” or you can keep a limited amount of money on your “online debit card.”.
- Learn from other people’s experiences
- Before making an online purchase, try to read customer reviews about that specific store.
- Beware of possibly untrustworthy sites
- A good tip is to avoid buying from stores that have websites registered for free hosting services.
- Get additional information about the website
If you have any questions or suspicions about a store’s website, use an IP “WhoIs” to learn more about the domain, including how long it has been in use and who owns it. Note the period for which the domain has been paid.
Eliminate vulnerabilities in your operating system and applications
Always make sure the operating system (and all apps) on your computer and other devices have the latest updates installed. This will help you eliminate vulnerabilities in the operating system and applications that can be exploited by malicious programs and attacks.
Windows products are frequent targets for vulnerabilities, so be sure to check that you are running the latest versions of OS, XP, or Windows 7; Safety is essential.
Maintain your firewall
To increase security, instead of running a standard firewall, you can choose to use application- and software-based firewalls.
Protect yourself from malware and Internet security risks
A powerful anti-malware solution can protect you from computer viruses, worms, trojans, and more. Some anti-malware products also include special technologies that provide additional layers of security for using online banking and shopping websites.