SUMMARY: Today's technology makes it easier than ever to conduct a full range of financial transactions online. However, doing so can be dangerous if you don't first take certain precautions.
Hackers and identity thieves are just waiting for you to slip up and present a virtual window for them to climb through, enabling them to steal your financial information. That doesn't mean you should avoid conducting financial transactions online altogether — you just need to know how to protect yourself.
When accessing your accounts at TDECU and other financial institutions online, there are three things you need to do to ensure maximum security.
1. Use a Firewall Along With Virus Protection Software
Every computer comes equipped with a firewall, which is a sort of virtual gateway that prevents unwanted visitors from accessing your information. Always keep this firewall on. For added security, you can also purchase software that provides a stronger firewall than the one provided by your computers system's software.
However, while a firewall affords you some protection, it isn't fail-safe. That's why you should also use virus protection software. Good virus protection software will not only protect your computer and data from viruses, but it will also help prevent the malware and spyware that hackers and identity thieves use to retrieve your sensitive data from being inadvertently downloaded to your desktop.
Tip: Opt for cloud-based virus protection software, as this can continuously refresh, eliminating the need for manual updates. Hackers are always working on new ways to beat virus protections, so having the most up-to-date software at all times is essential.
2. Do Not Use Public Wi-Fi to Conduct Financial Transactions
Avoid using public Wi-Fi when conducting financial transactions online. Places that offer public Wi-Fi , such as coffee shops, hotels and bars, are prime locations for criminals to gain access to your data. The information you send through a public Wi-Fi network can be compromised by someone with advanced technical knowledge.
Tip: If you must conduct online financial transactions while you're out and about, invest in your own portable Wi-Fi device.
3. Be Aware of Online Scammers
Aside from using malware and spyware and taking advantage of public Wi-Fi, hackers also employ phishing techniques. Phishing scams entail the sending of emails that appear to come from a financial institution you do business with, like TDECU.
A phishing email appears official and typically carries a message of some urgency, stating that your account may be shut down or funds may be frozen if you do not sign into your account immediately via the provided link. However, the link actually leads you to a cleverly designed fake site instead of your financial institution. And, if you enter your username and password, the hackers get the information they need to access your real account.
To avoid falling for a phishing scam, look for obvious signs of a fake email, such as spelling errors or company logos that look strange. Also, most companies will never ask for your username or password in an email. Lastly, you should never use the link provided in the email. Instead, visit the website in question by typing its address directly into your browser.
Be consistent with all of the above, and you will improve the security of your online financial transactions. For added peace of mind, you should also consider enrolling in a credit monitoring program, which can alert you to any suspicious activity regarding your finances.