This is a cybersecurity checklist that talks about keeping your money safe online, how to protect your bank accounts, and other online financial security tips.

A guide to keeping your money safe online (+ cybersecurity checklist)

Keeping your money safe online is no simple task. In this article we’ll cover:

  • The types of identity theft
  • How to protect your money from identity theft
  • How can you protect your online identity
  • Protecting your online identity and reputation
  • A cybersecurity checklist and internet security tips you should use

Before we get started, take a moment to download our cybersecurity checklist. We’ll discuss these components and others throughout the blog.

How can you protect your online identity

As the Equifax data breach demonstrates, identity theft is a serious threat to keeping your money safe online, and one that even the most fearful among us are not immune from.

There are two basic types of identity theft:

  • Account takeover: someone takes over your accounts when they get access to your information, change your passwords, and make unauthorized charges and transfers.
  • Identity takeover: someone takes over your identity when they use your information to essentially create a new financial persona for themselves. Actions taken may include opening new accounts or lines of credit, filing tax returns, or applying for benefits under your name.

Unfortunately, bots are only getting more capable of setting up fake accounts, and they are becoming harder to detect. Some can even get through Captchas.

How to prevent account takeover

The best protection for avoiding account takeover (of either type) is prevention.

  • Monitor all your credit, debit, and pre-paid cards daily and notify the issuer immediately if you think you have been a victim of theft.
  • Set up alerts for your credit and debit transactions so that if unusual activity occurs, you are notified immediately
  • Review all financial statements monthly.

Who is responsible for the stolen funds? Does the bank just repay you? Here’s why keeping your money safe online is so important. There are no guarantees but here is a schedule of what liabilities you may be held responsible for:

Account Takeover Liability

Account TypeConsumer Notifies Institution:Liability Limited to:
Credit CardWithin 60 days of finding error$50
Debit CardBefore card is used$0
Debit CardWithin 2 days of finding error/noticing loss of card$50
Debit Card3-60 days of finding error/noticing loss of card$500
Debit CardAfter 60 days of finding error/noticing loss of card Account balance (or more*)
Pre-paid CardAfter charges are madeEntire pre-paid balance of card
Source: Federal Trade Commission

How to protect your money from identity theft

Identity takeover is a bit less common than account takeover, but nonetheless still expensive and time-consuming to resolve.  Here are some ideas for preventing identity takeover and keeping your money safe online.

  • You are entitled to one free credit report a year from all three major credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion). As this is only available for free once a year, you’ll have to monitor your credit throughout the year.
  • Credit alerts can be used. You’ll be notified whenever someone tries to open a line of credit in your name, but you’ll have to remember to renew these alerts every quarter.
  • There are credit monitoring services. These are retroactive and will not prevent a fraudster from accessing your information.
  • You could freeze your credit which would prohibit anybody from accessing your credit without your expressed permission; however this may become inconvenient.

Cybersecurity best practices

The best solution or keeping your money safe online is to practice behaviors that minimize the chances of theft. There are four main areas of concern: devices, online accounts, behavior, and financial accounts/credit.

We’ve composed a cybersecurity checklist with all the specifics. Here are the most salient points for each category.

#1 Devices

With devices, you want to be sure that if they get into the wrong hands, it’s nearly impossible for a thief to crack in. All computers, tablets, and phones should be password protected. As outlined in our security checklist, there are other IT protocols to follow to protect all devices.

#2 How to protect your bank account from hackers

One of the more important aspects of keeping your money safe online is to use a password manager. It’s common for people to use the same password for multiple accounts, not use strong passwords, send passwords over email or other nonsecure transmission methods, or write down passwords. This applies not only to your bank account but also to any other financial accounts you may have.

For other tips on how to keep your bank account safe online, refer to our checklist of internet security tips.

#3 Behavior

Just by altering the way you do things as a part of your daily life, you can reduce risk considerably.

The biggest thing is to operate with awareness. Be aware of phishing scams that will try to entice you with time-sensitive alerts, such as “you have been locked out of your account and need to reset your password”, or “your payment has been rejected.” Try searching on Google on the phrase “top 10 phishing emails” for more examples. Never click on these attachments. Be selective about the information you disclose on social media or over email. We outline many of the behaviors we recommend in our article about cyber and identity theft.

#4 Financial accounts/credit profile

Aside from the credit protection ideas mentioned earlier in this blog and on the cybersecurity checklist, a general word of advice for protecting your online identity and reputation is to adopt an attitude of risk aversion. In any situation where there may be any possible misappropriation of your financial information, play it safe.

Remember these words of advice: you’re only as safe as whoever it is that you’re giving your personal information to (name, address, etc.). For example,

  • There may be certain stores or websites that don’t appear to be a trustworthy from a cybersecurity perspective. Seek other options.
  • How safe is online banking on a mobile phone? Assume that it’s not.
  • When something sounds too good to be true, assume it’s a scam and adopt the mindset of guilty until proven innocent.
  • Any time there is a topic getting a lot of attention in the media (vaccines, COVID testing, bitcoin, etc.) expect scammers to try to trick you into giving away your personal information.

Not all risks can be avoided, but careful scrutiny can drastically reduce your likelihood of being a victim.

Concluding thoughts on keeping your money safe online

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on our best tips for keeping your money safe online.

We are a fee-only, fiduciary wealth management firm based in Oregon, serving clients across the country. If you’re interested in engaging with us further, please reach out and set up a time to meet. If now isn’t the time to make this move, we hope you’ll at least join our newsletter.

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The information on this page does not describe every aspect of our investment advisory services nor does it contain all of our performance records, and it is intended for residents of the United States. Information provided is obtained from sources we believe to be reliable but is not guaranteed. Past results are not indicative of future performance. Nothing on this page should be construed as investment, tax, or financial advice. MCS Family Wealth Advisors® is owned by MCS Financial Advisors, LLC (MCS), an investment adviser registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. We only conduct business where properly registered or exempt from registration.