Monitor accounts online
The beauty of online accounts is that you can monitor them almost in real time. That means you can catch crooks long before a statement arrives in the mail.
Here’s how to shield your money and your existing accounts.
- Create strong passwords and user IDs, change them frequently, and don’t use the same ones for all your accounts. These steps make it harder for criminals to steal the virtual keys to your accounts and limit the damage they can do if they crack your code.
- Consider using a password manager, which generates and stores long, complicated passwords. The basic offerings among companies are the same, though there are differences in price, storage methods and ancillary services.
- Monitor your credit reports and credit score. Thieves can use your information to set up new credit cards in your name with a fake address. This means you’ll never receive bills, so your first clue that something is amiss may be a credit score left in ruins by unpaid bills or delinquent charges on your credit report. You are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Explore putting a lock or a freeze on your credit reports compiled by Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Both a lock and a freeze block access to your credit reports, making it highly unlikely that anyone could open a credit card in your name. As of Sept. 21, all credit freezes will be free thanks to a new federal law (previously, some states permitted fees to be charged for freezes).
- Don’t give out vital data like Social Security and bank account numbers to strangers calling over the phone. If you think the call may be legitimate, ask for the person’s full name and a number to reach out to him later.
- Consider buying identity-theft insurance through your financial institution.
- Don’t ignore your snail mail. Make sure you aren’t receiving unsolicited credit cards or collection notices for products and services you never purchased.
- Exercise caution when clicking on websites and emails. Thieves have become expert in forging the look of legitimate sites.
- If you typically do your banking in person at a nearby branch, consider creating an online account. You’ll be able to closely monitor account activity and spot breaches quickly. You could also prevent a thief from opening an account in your name.
- Get Account Alerts. Ask your financial institution or brokerage house representative if the institution provides account activity notifications and how to implement them. Alerts will notify you about activity on your account. Review alerts immediately can protect against fraudulent activity on your account.
- Don't use your account on an unknown computer. Unless you are sure a computer is secure, be wary of using a unknown computer. Computers can record pages viewed and keystrokes entered among other possible security violations. Granted, this will not be your experience on most computers, but be careful.
- Check Your Last Login Date. When you logon, your last logon date is displayed on the People's United Bank welcome page. Always check this date to ensure someone else is not using your account.
- Register Your Computer. Not only will this make logging on to your account quicker, it reduces the chance that the answers to your security questions will be compromised.
- Enroll into E-Statements. Receive your statements electronically. Paper statements can divulge your financial information if stolen from your mailbox.
- Review Account Activity. Review your online accounts for any transactions you did not initiate. Early detection may prevent large losses.
- Don't use your computer at work. Even if it's on your lunch hour and on your own time, employers can monitor computer usage and even typing (although most don't). While your company might not care how much money is in your accounts, those who are paid to monitor Internet and email use will also have access to this information. You can use your computer at work, just be aware of the risks.
- Shred or securely store your paper bank statements. One of the advantages of online banking is that your records are stored securely online. However, if your financial institution sends you monthly statements about your account or another account you have with them, be aware that these statements can include log-in information as well as account numbers that can be used to access your account. You should shred these documents when you are done with them or store them in a secure place.
- Understand security and online banking. You have taken a good first step by reviewing the information on this site and this list of security measures that you can take, but make sure you continue to be aware of the security measures your financial institution employs.
- Use a good password. Learn more here