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In today’s world of digital transactions and online business, there are even more ways for people to steal your money and your identity. Luckily, there are steps you can take to stay safe wherever you are. Check out these 5 tips for keeping your money secure in an uncertain world.
1. Keep Track of Purchases & Transactions
One of the best ways to keep your finances safe and in order is to keep records. Regularly review your bank statements and transactions. Keep receipts, particularly those from ATMs, to verify against your statements. As you maintain organized records and consistently keep track of your spending, you will be able to recognize any rogue purchases or fishy transactions.
The time spent reviewing your accounts is worth the effort if you discover missing funds or suspicious activity. You can then alert your bank to the issue and get it resolved before you lose money.
2. Use Your Own Computer to Access Financial Info
Avoid using public computers to access your financial accounts or online banking services. Public computers (such as those in Internet cafes, airports, hotels, or libraries) could have malicious spyware programs on them that can record your information (including passwords) and even intercept online traffic.
Additionally, use your personal, protected Internet connection, rather than public Wi-Fi. Traffic on public networks can be intercepted or attacked by the network administrator or other cybercriminals. To protect your accounts, stay away from these connections when making transactions.
3. Make Copies of Financial Documents & Cards
Having backup copies of all your financial and identification documents is a good idea. This is particularly prudent if you are leaving for a trip. Rather than taking all your valuable information (i.e. Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Passport, and Driver’s License, etc.) carry copies with you. If you are traveling abroad, you can leave your passport (and other important documents) in the hotel safe or locked up with your bags and keep the copy on your person.
Even if you are staying home, keeping copies of these documents is a good way to back up your information, especially if you find yourself the victim of identity theft or financial fraud. Having records is a simple way of guarding against these potential dangers.
4. Beware of Fake ATMs
Unfortunately, you can’t trust all ATMs. Some thieves will set up fraudulent ATMs in public places to lure unsuspecting customers in to steal their financial information. Therefore, to be safe, avoid using lone ATMs and instead opt to make transactions in banks, airports, hotels, and other reputable business locations. Many companies provide ATM locators on their sites, or you can use an ATM locator app on your smartphone to find legitimate ATMs in your area.
5. Report Lost or Stolen Cards Immediately
This should go without saying, but always report lost or stolen credit and debit cards right away. Most credit cards and debit cards are insured against fraudulent charges after $50. But you need to notify your bank right away so you can take care of any false transactions immediately. This is particularly important for debit cards, which will insure you for the first two days (typically) but after which you will be liable for any money lost on that account.
In other words, if you lose your card (or it is stolen), you should cancel it immediately so you don’t lose all your money. If you are traveling, make sure you have a few back up credit cards, in case of theft or loss. You don’t want to get caught in a foreign city or country with dead cards and no cash. Always have a backup to be safe.