1. Keep crucial numbers secure
Don’t print Social Security and driver’s license numbers on the checks you write, or jot down your PINs and passwords on cards, advises Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association (ABA) Foundation.
She also stresses that you should not give your credit or debit card and PIN to someone else to use. When you’re at an ATM or using a credit card terminal at a store, be sure to shield the view of your PIN. Also, look for signs a card reader has been tampered with, such as loose components or wires; that may mean the device has been fitted with a skimmer, which can record your personal information.
Finally, before donating or discarding an old computer, Gerri Walsh, senior vice president for investor education at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), urges wiping the hard drive to remove all personal and financial files.
2. Create strong passwords — or pass phrases
What’s considered strong? Passwords that include lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols, if allowed, says Carlisle. Or try pass phrases, such as, [email protected]$h, suggests Walsh. They’re stronger and not as hard to remember. Whichever you choose, use different passwords for each account and change account passwords as well as the PIN of your ATM card regularly.
If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords, you may want to use a password manager, Walsh says. For a nominal fee, a password manager randomly generates secure passwords for your accounts while allowing you to use a simple master password. Using strong encryption, it also protects PINs, CVV codes, credit card numbers and answers to security questions.