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The Wall Street Journal reported that financial institutions are projected to spend $2.6 billion more on cybersecurity in 2016 than they did in 2014. In addition to your bank’s security efforts, there are a few things you can do to help keep your accounts as secure as possible.
1. Avoid using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive accounts – Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks is great to check Facebook or LinkedIn, but avoid using it to access your financial accounts. Anyone connected to the same network can see your login information, making it easy for hackers to access your accounts long after you finish your coffee.
2. Create complex, unique passwords (and change them often) – You’ve heard this advice countless times for good reason – your account is only as secure as you make it. If you use the same password for all your accounts, it’s safe to assume that once one of them is compromised, ALL of them are compromised. Check out this article from The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/01/26/most-common-passwords-revealed---and-theyre-ridiculously-easy-to/) to see the 25 most common passwords of 2015, how to create a more secure complex password, and what hackers do once they have one of your passwords.
3. Check for abnormal activity often – Every few days, check your recent transactions to make sure all activity on your accounts is legitimate. If you see anything abnormal, report it right away. Check with your financial institutions to see what fraud you’re liable for – many credit cards will cover fraud liability as long as you report the transaction as fraudulent within a certain amount of time. Every financial institution’s policy is different, so it’s important to stay informed of how long you have to report fraudulent activity, and check in on your accounts accordingly.
4. Sign up for alerts – Many financial institutions have the ability to text and/or email you if they see something strange on your account. This should not replace your checks for abnormal transactions, but your bank may detect something strange before you do. Rhinebeck Bank’s online banking offers alerts for failed sign-on attempts, password changes, and low/high balance alerts. Additionally, all customers are automatically set up with alerts for mailing address changes, email address changes, phone number changes, and “forgot username” accessed. Check with your financial institution to see what alerts they offer.
5. Avoid clicking on links in emails (even if it looks legit) – Spammers have wised up, and have the ability to send emails that look like they’re from a company you do business with. This is called phishing. Just like your bank will never call you and ask you for your account information, it will never email you asking you to reply with sensitive information. Best practice is to type in the URL yourself, and avoid clicking links sent to you through email.