Protecting your finances from fraud should be on the top of your list for keeping grubby hands out of your financial cookie jar. Staying one step ahead of anyone who might try to steal your identity or make a fraudulent transaction on one of your credit cards is not always easy. Thieves are crafty and smart, which is why we’ve gathered five tips to keep you ahead of the game. It all comes down to keeping an eye on your credit, your bank accounts, and the way you spend money.
Run Your Credit Report
At least once a year, run your credit report. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the big three, and you’ll want to make sure all your accounts and pertinent information are up to date and accurate. Your credit report can be freely accessed once per year from annualcreditreport.com, which is the only site to request reports from all three credit sites for free under Federal law. If you check your credit report more than once a year, you might pay an extra fee, but always be wary of any website that looks legitimate but charges extra fees that are unnecessary.
Change Your Passwords to Financial Accounts
In today’s world, it is not smart to have your password set to your pet’s name, your anniversary, or your children’s birth dates. These are far too easy to guess and certainly not secure enough to keep your money and accounts safe. Whether you think up complicated passwords or use a password manager such as LastPass, the best thing you can do for yourself is to reset your passwords today. For each and every one of your financial accounts, you’ll want to establish a different and unique password which will make it harder for fraudsters to hack into your accounts. Tedious? It can be. However, it’s absolutely worth it to protect your accounts.
Establish An Online-Only Credit Card for Shopping
The more credit cards you use to purchase items online, the more chances for your credit cards to be compromised and the numbers stolen. One way to combat this issue is to have a dedicated card for all your online purchases. No matter what you purchase, if you buy your items with a singular credit card, the headache of dealing with fraud will be whittled down to one particular card rather than all the cards in your wallet. If you eventually do have to deal with fraud, by having only one card, you’ve saved yourself a great deal of hassle in closing and reissuing several credit cards at once.
Re-Evaluate Your Mobile Data and Calling Plan
It might be time to reevaluate your mobile text and data plan. If your family has grown or downsized, you’ll want to take another look at your plan to ensure you are not spending unnecessarily. Carriers offer all kinds of plans, from family plans to unlimited plans that are perfect for anyone who has a lot of users in their family. Older couples and single seniors, however, might enjoy a senior plan that better fits their mobile activity. This way you will not end up paying for data you don’t need, nor will you continue to pay exorbitant fees should you need more.
Turn on Banking Alerts to Your Cell Phone
Turning on banking alerts to text your cell phone is one of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your money without actively logging into your bank. You’ll be alerted to transactions as they happen, such as low balance, high dollar withdrawal amounts, foreign transactions, deposits, and even unusual activity. The same day any questionable charges occur you’ll be able to contact the bank and handle any issue rather than not seeing the transaction until weeks later when your money is long gone. This will give you tremendous peace of mind in knowing you’re immediately alerted every time money leaves your account.
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